Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of the Year Reviews: Big Eyes and The Imitation Game.

Well, with the year of 2014 finally coming to a close (My! How time flies), I thought I’d take some time to write two new reviews for some films I had recently gotten a chance to watch, both of which were among my most anticipated movies of the year. One a notable change of pace for its signature director, and one a raved British drama expected to score major Oscar nominations. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Brief thoughts on The Interview.

I know it’s perhaps odd to be posting a review on Christmas, but given the circumstances of the release of this film, I simply couldn’t ignore it.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple weeks, you’re already well aware of the new comedy The Interview, which features Seth Rogen and James Franco as two television figures tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Unsurprisingly, the film’s content has not gone over well with the North Korean government, with the film's distributor, Sony, having been the victim of a vicious mass-hacking, and the so-called Guardians of Peace threatening any theaters playing the film with attacks the scale of 9/11 (a threat eventually deemed not credible), ultimately culminating in the film’s eventual cancellation…

…Or so we thought. By trying so hard to suppress this film from the public, these “Guardians of Peace” have instead stirred up the mother of all Streisand effects, generating more interest in the film than it would have possibly gotten if things had played out uninterrupted. The whole world wanted to see this movie. So, on December 23rd, Sony announced that it would be distributing the film to 200 independent theaters for screening, and not only that, but the following day allowed sites like YouTube and Google Play to rent and stream the film. With this, I happily decided to give it a go. It doesn’t live up to any of the hype that was built-up, but I laughed hard and had fun with it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Annie movie review.

Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s that time of year when families all over will be heading to the movies, seeing movies the likes of Into the Woods, Night at the Museum, and the now notorious remake the of the musical Annie.

For the record, I’ve never considered myself a fan of the original musical this film is based on. Aside from a couple songs here and there, I’ve always considered it highly forgettable and stale. Because of this, I was never quite as gung-ho as others to write this new film off, as I couldn’t care less for the source material to begin with.

However, I never could have seen just how negatively this film was being treated, so much so that not only fans of the musical, but even those who can’t stand it all agreeing on what a laughably terrible execution this is. Out of curiosity, I had to check it out, and I now find myself at a loss for words by how unhinged and crazy this film is.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brief thoughts on Nightcrawler.

Believe it or not, even this movie isn’t as pathetic or bloodthirsty as the crew at TMZ.

It’s no secret that our modern society has a grotesque fascination with crime developments, but in Nightcrawler, the debut film of director Dan Gilroy, that fascination with the dark side of media is taken to alarming new heights. In many ways, it’s an infinitely superior take on the seedy neon underbellies of the world to Only God Forgives. With a fantastic lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal (recently nominated by the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild), Nightcrawler certainly makes Gilroy a bold name to watch in the future.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Brief thoughts on The Theory of Everything.

There’s a rich wonder to the expansive and limitless workings of the universe, the unknown often frightening to us, or leaving us awestruck by its possibilities. Within the human condition itself, there is also such wonder to behold. This is that core conflict that makes up The Theory of Everything, a detailing of the history behind the brilliant Stephen Hawking.

The life of Hawking is nothing short of extraordinary, fighting for his life when it seemed he had all odds stacked against him, but to this day is an inspiration for his teachings and findings, and while The Theory of Everything is a film that doesn’t break new ground, it’s no less of a stellar portrait than the man deserves.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Birdman movie review.

When we first meet Riggan Thomson, the lead character of Birdman, we see him contemplating his life decisions, wearing nothing but briefs, as if to expose his deepest insecurities, but floating by some psychic power. Is it really happening, or is it all hallucination. Is it the battle of expectations vs. reality, and merely living fantasy?

In this single image, the perplexing tone is immediately set for Birdman, the latest feature from director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu. A step outside of Innaritu’s usual directorial style, which include films such as Babel and Biutiful, the film played in major festivals and circuits around the world, and has been universally praised as one of the best films of the year.

My answer to that: They’re absolutely right. In a year that has been overloaded by sequels and reboots. Birdman stands comfortably among the most wholly originally films of the year, and a career defining moment for much of its cast and crew, a marriage of perfect craftsmanship and thematic density.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Brief thoughts on The Boxtrolls.

Laika studios have quickly become a prolific name in the animation circuit, having helmed acclaimed films such as Coraline and ParaNorman. While I don’t consider them to be near the same level of Pixar, they’ve still made films that are undeniable feats of imagination.

However, ever since their debut with Coralne, it seems all of their follow up films have gotten progressively worse, all culminating in their latest release, The Boxtrolls. Leading up to the film, no one was really sure what it was about, and its enigmatic trailers fascinated us because of it. However, that promise of exceptional things to come turned out to be for naught, being the studio’s most technically masterful, but conceptually paper thin effort.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 movie review.

Hello, everyone! Well, it’s finally that time of year again. The time when I get to talk about a Young Adult novel series turned movies that I actually like.

For as much hassle as I give films in this vein, I won’t deny the films that have exceptional merits. Longtime readers will no doubt know of my fondness for The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, and their subsequent film adaptations. Heck, Catching Fire made my top ten best films of 2013 list. I have always admired this series for its scathing societal commentary of obsession with reality television and the celebrity that comes with it, and its examination of governmental communism and manipulation.

So, you could see why I’d be so excited for today’s topic, Mockingjay – Part 1, based on what is my favorite book in the series. Of course, it still had its struggles to put up with. In what many assume was yet another money-grubbing attempt to cash in on the success of The Deathly Hallows, Mockingjay is the latest YA book to be split into two films, with the second half due out in November 2015.

And just like any of the tested alliances in the book, this decision turns out to be a necessary evil.