COWBOYS AND ALIENS

cowboys and aliens

Concept: A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.

That statement is from IMDB. I feel like stating any more about this barley passable movie would be a waste of my time.

Acting:Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford have the lead roles here. Both do their jobs great. Since they are the only believable characters in the entire movie. When they did shine it was hard to notice from all the other stale actors and explosions mixed with 8th grade CGI.

Cinematography:Nothing noticeable here. It’s an action movie. It’s not trying to take amazing shots. I wasn’t wow’d or impressed once. Hard to believe this was supposed to be a blockbuster.

Direction:Jon Favreau fell pretty hard here. I feel like none of the actors beside Craig and Ford knew what they were supposed to do. The story follows a fairly straightforward plot which I guess is good but it just doesn’t have any depth or complexity or soul to it. I feel like this was pumped out to mind numb movie goers.

Score: Again nothing special. Kind of sub par. Felt it hindered the movie at times. Just very cheesy all around.

Opinion: Not a fan. Won’t be a fan. Won’t recommend this. If it’s on tv and you feel brave go ahead and watch but this film is barley a watchable movie.

Watch-ability:Low

Overall Grade: D

THE BIG LEBOWSKI

THE BIG LEBOWSKI.png

Concept: A laid back dude allows us to see what happens in his life over a short period of time. This is kind of a hard movie to explain. I’ll say there is like an idea of a plot but the plot isn’t really important here. The characters are what holds this film together.

Acting: Like I said the characters hold this film together. Every single actor knocks it out of the park here. I loved John Goodman and Jeff Bridges performances the most though. I could quote this movie for days. I can see why this is a cult classic and why there is even a yearly festival for this film. All of the characters are just so interesting. I cant praise the cast enough. Hell even Tara Reid does a good job here, mostly because she doesn’t talk much and is hardly seen.

Cinematography:The cinematography in this movie is extremely well done. I feel like whenever you deal with a comedy this isn’t as important. But every shot is just so well done, that I feel like if this film was shot in any other way it wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome. There is this shot of the dude later on in a dream sequence that is just iconic.

Direction: The Cohen brothers received a lot of praise for Fargo. It really shows why they got all that praise in this movie. I feel like they knew what they wanted to do with this film which is more than I can say for a lot of modern directors.

Score:The soundtrack here is phenomenal. It’s crazy because all the music makes it almost feel like a western. It can be a little all over the place at times but that’s another thing that makes it so great.

Opinion:I love this movie. It’s got some great dialogue in it, great characters, and great acting. It’s funny in it’s own way and I can say this is in my top 5 comedy’s.

Watch-ability:Very high.

Overall Grade: A+

Must Own

BIRDMAN

BIRDMANConcept: This movie is about everything. This movie is about everything in life that matters. This movie stars, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone. The basic plot is about a man putting on a play, but this movie is about everything. It’s quite hard to describe. The movie is made to look like it’s one continuous shot. Which is very aggressive and I have to say they have pulled it off in this movie.

Acting: The acting is superb in this movie. Edward Norton is the best he’s been in years. This was Emma Stone’s best role so far. And Michael Keaton just destroyed it. This in my opinion was the best performance of his career. I really can’t praise the entire cast enough.

Cinematography: The way this movie was shot, is very nontraditional. That said, this film just is beautiful. There is a shot where you see Michael Keaton try to not cry when he’s talking to his ex wife and you see a couple tears roll down his face and in the mirror you see how his wife’s expression changes. It was just so well done. This movie is an experience.

Direction: I DO NOT HAVE ONE SINGLE PROBLEM WITH THIS FILM. I don’t even know why I should continue reviewing this. This is a flawless movie. The direction of this film was perfect. There truly isn’t anything else I can say.

Score:Almost the entire soundtrack except the last scene is all drums. This may sound risky, but yet again, it pays off. This movie just I can’t even. It adds to the film and grips you by the throat and makes you pay attention. It really is incredible.

Opinion:I love this movie. This movie is perfect. This movie made me remember why I loved movies. This movie made me think after the film. It left the end open for interpretation. I saw some of my life in these scenes. I saw the happiness, pain, anger, and every other emotion in this film and how it made me reflect on my own. Go Buy This.

Watch-ability: Very High. I really can’t say more here.

Overall Grade: A+ and some extra credit.

Must Own. Would buy it again if it was stolen.

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ONLY GOD FORGIVES

ONLY GOD FORGIVES

Concept: It’s very hard to describe the plot of this film. I’m just going to say this is a revenge tale. It’s much deeper than that but if I delve into it I think it would spoil too much. There is a deeper plot but you are going to have to DIG for it. There is no real clear character’s here it seems like they are all metaphor’s for something.

Acting: So the acting was very subjective on how good or not it was. I personally think every actor did fine. There is very little talking. So it makes it harder for me to grade the acting with so little talking. But I did believe all the “characters” actions were genuine in regard to what they thought was right.

Cinematography:This is without a doubt the best part about this film. Every shot of this movie is perfect. Like Stanley Kubrick level perfect. It’s just, well I wish there was a more cohesive narrative and dialogue to help support it. It really pains me to dock such a beautifully shot movie.

Direction: Again. My problem here is with the narrative and how  Nicolas Winding Refn structures it. Considering he wrote the film I feel like this turned out better in his head. It’s a shame really. Drive was such a powerful movie, that I was so hyped to see this.

Score:The soundtrack again is phenomenal. It’s different than drive but still heavily electronic in nature and really adds to the movie.

Opinion: SO, after my brief little rant on this movie, I did enjoy it although it strained me on following the narrative. It’s trying so hard to be an art house type film. It’s shot beautifully and the soundtrack is incredible too. Ryan Gosling continues to be Ryan Gosling and rise on my actors to watch list. I just wish that this film was more cohesive and tried to be less about being some giant vision that Stanley Kubrick would write and be a film that is clearer about it’s purpose. In my opinion this movie is a missed opportunity that had more potential.

Watch-ability: High: if you are into “art” films. Because there is some deeper meaning to it about god and forgiveness. I feel like this movie may be appreciated more later in life.

Low: if you are the general theater audience. This entire movie is a metaphor for something. If you go in with the mind set of an average movie goer you will have a bad time. This movie has many flaws and is not for someone who doesn’t like to analyze film.

Overall Grade: C-

I will purchase just because of Gosling, and I know this director has potential. I just don’t know if we will see him hit the level of drive again.

MAZE RUNNER

MAZE RUNNER

Concept: A teenager is sent against his will into some kind of containment where he must be self sufficient with a group of other adolescent boys. They must learn to work together survive. The only way out seems to be a giant maze that surrounds them. But there may be more surprises than they think.

Acting: So the acting in this film. Well. It’s very hit or miss. Most of these actors are young and still trying to perfect their craft. Dylan O’ Brian does a decent job of portraying Thomas. The same goes for Blake Cooper as Chuck, Aml Ameen as Alby and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt. The only actor who I thought did really well was Will Poulter as Gally. He really made me hate him as the villain. Although I wouldn’t necessarily call Gally a villain.He just seems to be trying to do what he thinks is best. I think Poulter could have a very fine carter as an actor if he plays roles as well as he did here.

The girl however Teresa played by  Kaya Scodelario, has virtually no development and in my opinion is one of the most stale actresses I have ever seen. I do not know if she has done other work, and I’d love to give her a second chance but she just had no soul in this film and I thought she really didn’t even matter much to the story. I hope she develops more in the future movies. (C’mon we know they are going to finish it out).

Cinematography: I don’t really have anything to say about this matter of the film. To me there was nothing special about it. Some shots looked really nice and they tried to give off this idea that the maze was huge through the shots, and it kind of worked, but nothing really made me go “wow”. We mainly only deal with one section of the maze. I feel like so much more could have been done. Overall the cinematography was ok, but it could have done more.

Direction: So I think Wes Ball did the best he could here. This is a young adult novel on the hype train that is the hunger games. With now every young adult novel being turned into a movie it was just a matter of time until the maze runner got adapted. The structure of the movie is fine. In fact more than fine. It follows a clear concise narrative line. My gripe however is how Wes didn’t alter some contradictions I found in the movie.

In one scene Thomas is being yelled at for not being able to remember this girl. When none of the boys can remember their past, why are they yelling at Thomas for not remembering his? They may be adolescent boys and not care but I found this a little off putting to the movie.

Score: So the soundtrack again, like the rest of the movie was ok. Nothing special. It supported the film instead of adding to it. To me a soundtrack should always add, never support.

Opinion: It’s an ok movie. The best thing it has going for it is the plot. The acting is mostly stale, with a few gems, the score is in the background and the directing could use some work, even if the narrative structure was a nice refresher on the standard formula, after I have been watching so many films with non linear and non traditional story lines.

Watch-ability: One and Done. I saw this once. I’ll probably never watch it again.

Overall Grade: C

Nothing Special. Good time the first time but no desire to re-watch. This is the truest definition i can give of what a C movie means to me. And the maze runner is just that.

SHUTTER ISLAND

shutter island

Concept: In the mid 1950′s a federal marshal (Teddy Daniels) goes to an insane asylum, to pursue an escaped fugitive, but quickly learns things may not be as simple as  they seem. This is a psychological thriller film that keeps you on edge most of the time.

Acting: Leonardo Dicaprio does a great job as federal marshal Teddy Daniels here.  Mark Ruffalo performs as Teddy’s partner Chuck. Ruffalo does a fantastic job as well. Both actors give off this excellent noire vibe too them.

Cinematography: Some of the shots in this film have this weird almost unreal like nature. You’ll notice some hiccups in the movie kind of like the shining. Little tricks to play with your mind. They seem to become more prevalent later in the movie. It also plays with the idea of just how sane is every character in this movie. What truly is sanity?

Direction: The way Scorsese directs in this film can’t truly be appreciated on the first viewing. The way the movie is structured and the way the scenes happen become even more apparent at how good they are on the second viewing. Scorsese is essentially a master director at this point in his career and it really shows here.

Score: The soundtrack is solid gold. The opening sequence is dark, heavy, and elegant. Reminiscent of Igor Stravinsky in some ways.The rest of the film continues this trend as things get more dark and sinister. It truly contributes to the atmosphere of this film. Although this is not my favorite Scorsese film, that is one thing it gets incredibly right, Atmosphere.

Opinion:I like this movie a lot. I wouldn’t really class it as a favorite of mine, but it is a great film none the less. I think it’s a must watch because it is kind of a experience. There isn’t a whole lot of complexity to the initial plot, and there are a few cinema sins in this movie (the invincible band-aid), but it’s a great time and gripping throughout.

Watch-ability: High. Demands 2 watches.

Overall Grade: B

A must watch. If you’re a Scorsese fan or a Leo Fan I’d recommend buying it for cheap, it may not be their best work but it is a great movie none the less. Sometimes simplicity through ¾ of the movie is all that’s needed I suppose.

AMERICAN PSYCHO

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Concept: A prominent businessman’s life is shown and we observe his daily routine. The movie acts more as a dark comedy on life in the late 80′s that tries to show some truths though the black humor.

Acting: This in my opinion is Christian Bale’s best performance. Almost every line he says and acts out is quotable. You really believe this guy could be real. And during the time period it’s taking place in, it seems easier to get away with the things he is participating in.

Cinematography:The shots and angles in this movie are very meticulous and precise. Every scene seems to have a purpose. There is also a particular shot at the very end, that i still view to this day as one of the best shots in movie history. Patrick Bateman is just staring into the camera and the way its shown, just really emphasizes that he’s merely some kind of vessel for chaos.

Direction:The Directing of this film is pretty solid.  There is a lot of implication to the film. You’re not quite sure if he really committed certain crimes but you think Christian Bale’s character Patrick Bateman might have done something. It gives this feeling of uncertainty and questioning that is lacking in modern films.

Score:The soundtrack is very contrast to a lot of what is going on in the movie. A lot of the violence early on is implied and as the movie progresses and we see more violence, the music gets more dark and violent. It’s a nice touch in all honesty. The classical pieces really suggest this elegance to Patrick bateman’s madness.

Opinion: I think this is a highly underrated film on a character study of a psychopath. It’s one of my favorite movies simply because it’s an experience. Christian Bale has never been better, and the movie provides a lot of commentary on the absurdly rich. Just a great movie all around.

Watch-ability: Moderately high. The movie isn’t for everyone but usually i find people love it or hate it. And if you love it, usually you can watch this movie over and over again. Then you try to show it to friends and see if you can get them on the Patrick Bateman train.

Overall Grade: A

Must own for film buffs. Recommended buy for everyone else.

BLADE RUNNER

blade runnerConcept: A burn out blade-runner, a man who hunts down androids known as replicants, is convinced to do one last job to hunt down some rouge replicants that seem to be high on the priority list.

Acting: Harrison Ford plays Deckard who is a burnt out blade runner that is assigned the job. Ford plays his usual action hero role here. He does a fine job as it and even manages to make us feel that Deckard is a deeper character than he appears.

Sean Young does a good job as Rachael. She is a replicant that believes she is human. At times however she can seem kind of stale and inhuman. But I guess that is the point. She is a replicant after all.

Overall the acting is done very well in this film. I think Rutger Hauer was my favorite performance though. As the main villain Roy, This replicant is just menacing. One of my all time favorite villain’s for sure.

Cinematography: This is hands down the best part of the film.

The shots and lighting in this film are what modern films look at today and ask themselves, “Can we achieve what blade runner did?”

These wide shots of L.A. are just awe inspiring. I truly can not tell you enough how visually pleasing this film is.

Direction: Ridley Scott is the director of this film. And honestly as A director he is very hit or miss for me. I love Alien, Gladiator, and even  really liked Prometheus. Yes I said that. Yes you read that right.

Ridley just knows what he is doing here however. Every single scene in this movie matters. This movie just has so many layers to it about mortality and identity. Ridley really emphasizes this in every single scene. The visuals he presents and how he shoots the action sequences are just astounding.

Score: THE SOUNDTRACK IN THIS FILM IS PHENOMENAL. I really am not going to go into more detail than that. The music adds to every single scene and the atmosphere. Period. All movies should take note.

Opinion: Personally, I love this film. There is a sequel coming out for this at some point, which I’m nervous for. I view this as a standalone film that has a lot of commentary of identity and mortality and what it means to be human. It has flaws, such as the beginning pacing, but the visuals and the soundtrack and neo noir esque vibe to it just make it a masterpiece in my opinion. Harrision Ford is just iconic, and the future presented here is almost believable. A lot of people hate on not being emotionally hit with this movie, except for the final scene with Rutger Hauer’s speech, but to me this movie still makes me think every-time I watch it. I always find something new in it. I love showing people this film. I love talking about how good sci-fi should always be compared to this benchmark. I may sound biased but this is film is that addicting if you like science fiction.

Watch-ability: High. I could study this film and many film students do just that in fact.

Overall Grade: A

Must Own.

*This was a review of the final cut which was completely under ridley scott’s creative direction, and I believe this is the film that should be viewed, analyzed and studied.

DRIVE

drive

Sometimes when late at night when I get off work and I’m driving home while all the city lights are on my jeep as a drive home I get this weird feeling that I’m in a scene of my own movie. A song kicks on and adds to the effect and whether I’m lost in thought or just enjoying the drive home, Ryan Gosling reminds me of that feeling this whole movie.

Drive kind of perplex’s me with how it was marketed. As this action movie that is some kind of fast and furious knock off. Drive however is so much more than that. I think this movie is more of a character study, and what it means to be a hero. I think the driving is just secondary to whats really going on here.

Ryan Gosling’s character (the Driver) is very soft spoken quiet and “let my actions speak louder than my words” kind of guy. He’s a very interesting character because you can know how he feels throughout this whole film without Driver having to say a word.

The plot may seem slow to some who are not film buffs or are only in it for the action. However without spoiling anything the plot is nothing to cry home about. What makes this so special is the characters and how this movie is presented and even the score. Everything you see in this film has some sort of meaning.

I’m beating a dead horse here but the soundtrack to this film is phenomenal. I really got into the movie even more and had some deep thought because of the score.

The direction was done really well too. Like I said you get the feeling every shot counts here. Nicolas Winding Refn has a bright future if he’s as meticulous in this film, in future films.

Bottom line: A+

A must own.

This is a must own and a must see. My only dock is that the plot is not the most original. But everything else has deep meaning to it and the whole movie is done very well. If you like film, watch this movie, analyze this movie, It’s just a great film it truly is.

GONE GIRL

GONE GIRL

So I have loved movies for a very long time. I’ve grown in a family that has treated watching movies almost like a ritual. And I’m truly thankful for that. Some films I have analyzed over and over. Some of the films I’ve seen have made me look differently on life and have changed my life completely as cheesy as that may sound.  Gone Girl is one of those films.

Let me start off by saying this was a very, very, very difficult movie for me to watch. I had to pause and resume later several times. Not because it was bad, not because of Ben Affleck or Rosamund Pike,. not because of David Fincher, but because I truly despised how the media portrayed the events in this film and how manipulative and evil Amy Dunn came off as. Nick Dunn(Ben Affleck) was not a perfect husband but you really connected with this guy and truly felt like, damn, this guy does not deserve this.

This movie is not easy to watch and I think will appeal more to the film buff crowd. David Fincher is known for these iconic and analytical pieces on society and he does that here in gone girl.

Truly, although gone girl is based off of the novel of the same name, the movie feels more about the media than the story of Nick and Amy, although that is really prevalent as well. The media in this film… god I could just talk for hours about how it reminds me of how the media portrays today’s events. I’m writing my review as I finally finish this film. And honestly I’m just kind of speechless.

The score was good. I never really payed too much attention to it but I felt that it added to the experience of the film. The shots in the film – at times –  were beautiful as well. You could really see the despair and anger in Afflecks eyes.

My only real complaint is for me it felt like this film was a very slow burn. Normally I can enjoy movies like this. Nightcrawler comes to mind in that aspect ( go buy that movie right now by the way), but it was just very difficult starting this movie. Once you start piecing things together your reaction might be like mine and just be disgusted by the thought that a character could do something like this.

Bottom Line

B+

Recommenced buy.

I fell like the pacing could be better and this movie is not for everyone. But if you can power through the start, David Fincher has created something here that will leave any film buff, movie buff, or just someone interested in how the media REALLY works; truly speechless. I cant see I’ll watch this movie again. But I can say I am going to be thinking about this film for a very, very, very long time.