I was thoroughly unimpressed in more ways than one with Baz Lurhmann's… MoreI was thoroughly unimpressed in more ways than one with Baz Lurhmann's take on one of the nation's greatest novels, The Great Gatsby. Considering Lurhmann has had moderate success with Moulin Rouge! and Romeo & Juliet (where he worked with DiCaprio before) it's disappointing how this adaptation could fall so flat with such powerful stars.
While the movie sticks to the source material for the most part, I didn't need the narration from Tobey Maguire the entire time like I was actually reading the book. First, I have never been completely sold on Maguire. I don't think he's a bad actor, but he didn't give any characterization to Nick Carraway. The same goes for most of the actors in this film, including DiCaprio. Nobody's performance deserves any special attention because it felt so cookie-cutter that you might have thought the actors were only showing emotion because of the punctuation on the script they were reading.
I know this was a few years ago, but Leo was coming off some of his best movies, and then this interrupted one of the better strings of successful movies for him. Carey Mulligan is always a delight on screen, but other than crying, sobbing or appearing confused, there wasn't much else for her to do.
Nothing came together for me while I was watching. Scenes cut in and out of flashbacks. Editing was abysmal. Continuity between scenes was a joke. What was the deal with trying to fuse current music into a movie based in the 1920s? None of it felt right. It was pretty much watching an audio book on screen with all the narration we were drug through and when we finally had a chance to watch what was happening on screen without listening to someone tell us about it, the scenes were filled with awkward pauses and stilted dialogue.
Even though Luhrmann stayed faithful to the material, never at any point did I believe it was on par with the magic I read back in high school from Fitzgerald.
At the heart of this one-of-a-kind Coen brothers film is Oscar Isaac.… MoreAt the heart of this one-of-a-kind Coen brothers film is Oscar Isaac. While the movie strikes its typical notes (no pun intended) with its humor and classy script that is always present in a Coen Bros film, Isaac grounds the entire product with his performance. It feels real. Earnest. Aside from the great soundtrack and excellent folk work, 'Inside Llewyn Davis" is only hamstrung by the oddity of the events that play out during what feels like a week in what is supposed to be a 'day-in-the-life' kind of experience.
Admittedly, I was a bit over zealous after the movie ended to give… MoreAdmittedly, I was a bit over zealous after the movie ended to give Spectre an outstanding review. More so than Skyfall. That is, until I sat back and had a chance to think about it and reread my review from that last film. While Spectre adds to the avant garde with its set pieces and action scenes, it falls back into more familiar (and therefor expectant) formula of years past to push the story.
Daniel Craig is firmly rooted in the Bond pantheon with this being his fourth (and final?) film as the secret agent. The first few films (and I'm not sure if Quantum of Solace should be included in this) really grounded the character in that realism promoted for these fictional characters by Christopher Nolan from his Batman trilogy. We saw a gritty, real-life representation of Bond we had never seen before, and Craig was perfect for it. His final portrayal seemed to shy more toward the campy side of the old Roger Moore and early Sean Connery performances. While not a terrible thing, it felt like we didn't quite get much acting from Craig because he was forced to recite these silly quips.
Heading even MORE in the campy direction was Christoph Waltz's character as the bad guy. While he can sell anything, it was tough to see his menace and underlying responsibility for the previous films seeing as how it all ties together. Which brings me to Lea Sedoux. A fantastic actress and stunning to boot, but I'm not sure, again, if I was left satisfied and as convinced with Bond's relationship with her as I was with Vespa in Casino Royale.
But...aside from a few storyboard hiccups, the real reason you come to watch Bond is for the gadgetry and action. The car chases are fun and feature stunning vehicles. The gun play is a bit too perfect for our anti-hero, but he sells his precision. The best fight probably happens with Bautista on the train. Close quarters and violent.
Overall, somehow, Spectre made this more of a team thing with M, Moneypenny and Q all having an important role while STILL making sure Bond was the one who had the biggest decision in the end. The callbacks to previous films, while blatant, were fun for fans and not totally out of place. If this is indeed the film that finishes off Daniel Craig as James Bond, he'll easily be considered as one of the best Bonds of all time. Spectre gives Bond and the audience nice closure to this arc started in 2006. It'll be interesting to see where the next one takes us.
Lake Bell and Simon Pegg, two of my favorite actors, put on top-shelf… MoreLake Bell and Simon Pegg, two of my favorite actors, put on top-shelf performances in "Man Up". Though it walks the line of the typical romcom, it's truly the acting that sets this a part from every other film you may have seen in this category.
If you can get past the fact that Lake Bell is putting on a British accent (believe me it was tough not to nitpick), her onscreen personality and radiance melds perfectly with Pegg's pop and pizzazz. I also really like how the entire movie (about 90 minutes or so) takes place over what seems to be just a handful of hours in one night. It's plausible. The time jumps made sense.
The trick is to balance comedy and romance in these films. "Man Up" does a particularly good job doing so because of the stars inherent funniness from what we've seen them in before in other works. The bonus here is the writing and script is up to par with their talents.
Sometimes when you're perusing films that fly under the radar, you… MoreSometimes when you're perusing films that fly under the radar, you find a gem. That is exactly what "The Final Girls" is when you consider all the variables that came together to make this movie.
Anchored with some well-known actors like Malin Akerman, Nina Dobrev, Thomas Middleditch, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig and Adam Devin, all the pressure is taken off the main star of the show and newbie Taissa Farmiga. With so much talent on the field outside Farmiga, she gets a chance to relax and really shine by letting loose. Aside from the fact she looks exactly like her sister (yes Vera is her SISTER), it appears she has all the chops needed to be an actor.
The movie takes a stabby, comic look at horror slasher films in quite an entertaining way by transporting our characters from real life into the movie when things go awry during an anniversary showing at a theater. You get all the general happenstances like certain characters dying in expected ways because of their stereotypes or musical ques that hit when certain things are expected to happen. But what really sets this movie above a typical satire or meta look at the slasher style is the surprising emotional angle from its main characters.
If you go into this movie expecting only a horror flick, you're bound to be disappointed due to the great comedy, both dialogue and physical. If you're expecting only a spoof, again, you'll be surprised with a few scares.
While you get great comedic performances from its star studded cast and a great breakthrough for Farmiga, I'll be honest when I say the movie felt rushed. It breezes by in a cool 90 minutes, but I could really watch much more. While the writers copped out just a tad with some of the characters, it still had a satisfying result to conclude everything.