This film is something altogether new, using space and time to its… MoreThis film is something altogether new, using space and time to its advantage. For Richard Linlater's efforts, he has been given six Oscar nominations and, God willing, he will win more than one award tonight. This film isn't just amazing for its size and scope, or the fact that it took twelve years to film, but also for what it covers in time. Because Linkater didn't work with a linear story that had to be covered, the story could change, and had input from the lives of those acting in it, making it a completely unique film experience for both actor and audience.
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British productions always seem to gain favor when it comes to getting… MoreBritish productions always seem to gain favor when it comes to getting Oscar nominations. This may come from the residual guilt of the American film elite over the constant stream of stupid, lame brained films our country churns out every year. This year the token British film is "The Theory of Everything." Like "The King's Speech" before it, this film has been given unneeded, unwarranted nominations. It will probably be the single most contentious film to be nominated this year.
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While it didn't get a lot of nominations this year, I found that "Gone… MoreWhile it didn't get a lot of nominations this year, I found that "Gone Girl" just had to be the first film that I watched for this series. I actually bought the book at Costco and speed read through it in a couple of days just to see the movie in time for Oscar season. The adaptation (from the Gillian Flynn book of the same name) was movingly perfect in its choices, poignancy, and mood. It captured the fear of being alone, the intimacy of marriage, and the driving force of insanity.
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Buster Keaton is a master of two distinct features of the silent movie… MoreBuster Keaton is a master of two distinct features of the silent movie era: comedy via physical trauma and injury, and he is the master of stunts. The stunts you see in Buster Keaton films are all real, and were all executed by Keaton himself. You will be in awe throughout this film as you watch Keaton get pummeled, pulled through the streets, and hit with the framework of an entire house, all while keeping a completely stone face. The framework of the film isn't actually all that important, as his past films also demonstrate. The film starts with his father asking him home to help beat out his competitor in a steam liner business. While this shapes the film there are also plots that follow his father to jail, and then Bill Jr. as he saves his love interest from a tornado's vicious wind. The comedy of Keaton's work is still as timeless and humorous as it was in the twenties, and I highly recommend this film for silent film fanatics and comedy lovers alike.
A perfect portrait of Austin, Texas in the nineties, this film is full… MoreA perfect portrait of Austin, Texas in the nineties, this film is full of vignettes of what it is like living out your twenties in that time period. It balances between being a love letter to Austin, and a diatribe about the collective characters that you meet when you're young. Linklater's films have often been heralded as centering on realism in contrast against the absurd. From the "Anti-Artist" in the bar scene to the conspiracy theorist in the book store, we've heard, and listened to, and felt exhausted by many of these same people in our lives. Though this film is nearly twenty-five years old, it feels just as relevant in today's times. Academia is always full of hotheads and passionate centenarians alike. This too is the world of liberal society, happy to philosophize about every aspect of life but intent on not living it. This film is funny, intellectually stimulating, and perversely amazing with its characters and cult following. A definitive piece of Linklater filmmaking and cultural iconoclast in the world of indie filmmaking, this is a must watch, in any case.
While this film hasn't aged well, (especially when it comes to its use… MoreWhile this film hasn't aged well, (especially when it comes to its use of computer technology), there is a reason that it is a classic action film, and has now spawned four sequels, the latest of which will be in theaters this year. Tom Cruise is probably the best action star of the past twenty years, mainly because he does his own stunts, even in an age where CGI is replacing a lot of stunt doubles. While this is saving many stunt people from injuries, the action looks fake and lowers the stakes for the audience. Tom Cruise is doing everything that you see onscreen. The scene in the vault is still relevant today because it looks and feels real for the audience. Iconic imagery from this film is still referenced today, and has informed many modern action films, probably making it the most influential action film of the decade, besides "The Matrix." The stakes of the first film revolve around the identities of a secret government agency, and Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is framed in a worldwide conspiracy. Hunt is almost completely alone in his quest to clear his name and help his other agents keep their secrecy intact. While many aspects of this film are still impressive today a lot of this does not have the same impact that it had nearly twenty years ago. Luckily the sequels are of the same caliber and incorporate modern technology and stunts.
While the trailer gave a good glimpse into the amazing craziness of… MoreWhile the trailer gave a good glimpse into the amazing craziness of this completely off-the-wall teenage dramedy, about the life of Helen (Juri), it could not possibly show the unparalleled quality of this film. Absurdist, surrealist, full of black comedy, and completely and utterly disgusting, this is a film that features a main character that is beyond classification. Her motivations seem to make no sense, but when we look at her family life, her friends, and learn how she views the world it all makes perfect sense. Even when she is committing unique, dastardly and juvenile slights against those that she loves, it's easy to understand why. She is being rebellious, like any teenager, and her actions are often in revolt against her repressed mother, society, and gender norms. Some scenes are so gross, even hardcore film lovers will flinch and maybe even gag. There are a lot of scenes that feature malformed body parts, bodily functions, and bad hygiene. Throughout this punk character's misadventures we see that she is struggling with real world issues, including self-hatred, nightmares centering on a horrific childhood trauma, and the loss of those who love her. It's a film that revels in absurdity and yet hits you at your core, balancing between its comedy and art-house quality easily.
A very simple concept drives "Chef" forward: food porn. Every other… MoreA very simple concept drives "Chef" forward: food porn. Every other shot of this film is looking above a professionally staged plate of gorgeous food. Jon Favreau executes a savory and sweet film, based on food, and how it shapes us as people. It can bring a family together, it can be your brilliant passion, or it can change your perspective on cultures and traditions foreign to you. The first forty minutes of this film drags the runtime into two hours all of which exists just to set up the main character, who is having issues with his son and ex-wife, and isn't as motivated and passionate about his work as he once was. The rest of the film follows him, his friend, and his son as they travel the country in a food truck, learning the different local cuisines and using Twitter to go viral in different cities. The inclusion of Twitter was a little distracting and reeked of product sponsorship, but it was also a giant plot motivator in the first half of the film. Besides that, it was actually really interesting to see the impact of the social media platform in the unique world of food trucks. It's not a new film, or one that will age well, but if you like food (which better be everyone) than this will be a film that you both appreciate and enjoy.
There's a lot to love in this dramedy from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who… MoreThere's a lot to love in this dramedy from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who starred, directed, and wrote this film. It has some really great performances from everyone involved: Tony Danza has never been more enjoyable to watch onscreen, Johansson is caustically hilarious, Moore is the best aspect of this entire film, and Gordon-Levitt actually gives a realistic performance as the sweaty, meat headed Jon. The main problem of the film is that it has a message that is belittled by its inclusion of relationship politics. If it was only about the problems, and pure humanity, of sex addicts (especially within communities full of these Jersey stereotypes) this film would be easy to love. The inclusion of a unique May-December relationship was especially inspired. On top of that the film tries to draw a line between the enjoyment of porn by guys, and the enjoyment of romantic comedies by women. This is a really strange, unclear connection that doesn't make much sense in the grander scheme of the film. That, and the relationship between Jon (Gordon-Levitt) and Barbara (Johansson) makes little sense to the rest of the narrative. Why it is included at all is a mystery. Is it a portrayal of women's expectations in general, or is it saying something about Jon's expectations when it comes to sex? It's a very strange narrative, and one that paints women as needy and pessimistic. This narrative is especially damaging when you look at the conclusion, which belittles sex addiction by having Jon end his addiction with free will. There have been better films that deal with this subject without getting everything absolutely wrong.
This is surely the easiest film to make fun of, in the Vin Diesel… MoreThis is surely the easiest film to make fun of, in the Vin Diesel canon. It was the first starring vehicle for the "Fast and the Furious" alum, and there's a reason why there's only been one sequel. The dialogue is disgustingly corny, the action is ridiculous, it's super dated by its' technology choices onscreen, and its' villains are ludicrously weird and out of place. The entire film is trying to be a super-fast paced adrenaline ride, utilizing strange costuming, European metal bands in the background of every scene, and gross choices in lighting. Vin Diesel is rheumy eyed throughout, coming off as a dork that has been given the chance to live out their fantasy in an action film. There's absolutely nothing that sets this apart from other action films, except all its references to its time period. It talks about online episodes, anarchists in a politically crazed country, and its look, which is always trying to steal from bigger, better films. Watch the version with RiffTrax, otherwise you won't enjoy any part of this dull, weird mishmash.