Monday, January 26, 2015

Review St. Vincent (2014)

genre: comedy, drama

St. Vincent is not your typical comedy. It will provide the laughs but it's not slapstick and does touch upon some serious issues. It's not heavy but not too light either. I just balances things right. And the biggest draw of course is Bill Murray. He is excellent as Vincent who reluctantly babysits Oliver played by Jaeden Lieberher. He does a great job as well since I sometimes find kid actors to be annoying but he never is. Which makes it a joy to watch him interact with Bill Murray. Melissa McCarthy is not in this film much but when she does it's sincere and far from the types she played in her previous films. And she actually was funny at times you did not expect her to be. And it shows she has excellent timing. Why oh why does she make films like Tammy you wonder? Naomi Watts also stars and she was good but it's one of the roles that could have been played by anyone. It does not really make any lasting impression. But she serves to illustrate what kind of a man Vincent is. Anyway this film at it's core is a feel good movie and one of the better ones I might add. Definitely one I can recommend.

Review Everly (2014)

genre: action, thriller

An action thriller with Salma Hayek as lead is bound to raise several questions. Salma while having played in action films mostly acted as damsel in distress. In Everly she is the one doing the ass kicking who has been put in a situation with seeminly no way out and where bad guys keep attacking her. While the premise does seem pretty out there and there is an abundance of action it's not your traditional action flick. Lot of reviews even dare to name this die hard in a room and personally I think that is not fair and correct. Everly is very different as the action is put in a very different context. It has more similar with for example The Purge. Right from the start the film makes you feel uneasy and uncomfortable. You don't see what happens. But you do know what is going on and the impact especially because of the sounds is heartbreaking. Instantly you are on Everly's side and the tension is on. There are a few breaks to give you a chance to breathe but for the most part you will be sitting on the edge of the seat of what is going to happen next. I won't reveal too much but prepare for some bloody and gory scenes. Salma Hayek is incredibly convincing and even manages to show different sides to her character and carries the film like a queen. You care for her character and root for her all the way. I was surprised to see how much attention was paid to dramatic impact. It is what gives Everly the edge to keep events interesting. Now there are a number of  times that you have to suspend disbelief but for the most part these are the moments that are very thrilling and surprising. Overall Everly is very intense and effective. It's a rollercoaster ride full of violence and insanity where your basic fears are put to the test but still manages to give you hope. BTW This film is directed by Joe Lynch who also did Knights of Badassdom and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. A must watch!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review Taken 3 (2014)

genre: action, thriller

I hope so!

When will bad guys ever learn not to mess with Liam Neeson. You know he has a particular set of skills and he basically can't die. It will only make him want to look for you, find you and kill you. So why oh why would you do everything to piss him off? For the love of God please don't do it anymore. There is only so much pointless violence I can take. I hate to say it but I am getting tired of Liam Neeson being the all powerful and honorable action hero. It was fun for a few times but now it has become seriously boring. He is not even trying in this hopefully last entry in the Taken franchise. Although you can hardly blame him. Taken should have never gotten sequels since it's the kind of movie that only works one time. It's Oliver Megaton and Luc Besson who are to blame. Luc Besson the man who is one of the most creative action movie directors around has dropped the ball. Where he once magically combined incredible action and stunts with wit and compelling story lines he now just doesn't give a damn anymore. I knew going into this film it was going to be bad. But I was hoping it to be the kind that was enjoyable anyway. Or at least offered some good action. Most of the action is edited and filmed in a way that will turn you away from the screen. Shaky cam and too many cuts is sloppy in action films. If you can't enjoy the action then what else is there to enjoy. Well, nothing. You don't watch a film like Taken 3 for the plot which BTW was given away in the trailer. Neither do you watch it for the character development or acting. And if you want people to enjoy the acting then make them act. Honestly most of the cast looked like they were still rehearsing their lines while having their make up done. And am I still to believe Maggie Grace is a young teenage girl? Come on! Taken 3 is the worst in the franchise and it's one to stay clear from. Don't watch, I repeat don't watch.

Also read: 
Review Taken 2.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review Interstellar (2014)

genre: science fiction, adventure, drama

Interstellar is the second one off all Christopher Nolan movies where I liked or better said could tolerate the ending (somewhat). The first one was Memento which I still think is Nolan's best and only one that has earned to be called a masterpiece. However that does not mean I liked Interstellar fully. Well, I did and then again I didn't. Let's just say I feel very conflicted. Because like always Christopher Nolan does things that made it hard for me to sit back and enjoy all of it. It starts out strong and compelling and it made you care enough because you do feel like there is something at stake for all characters involved. The minute Matthew McConaughey as Cooper is in space it becomes quite tasking to keep your attention. The pacing slows down considerably and some of the scenes are too long and drawn out where they explain far too much which is completely unnecessary since it seemed quite obvious to me. It's not like this was my first sci fi movie. In fact a lot of the so called surprising twists and turns were incredibly predictable which eliminated a lot of the tension and suspense for me. And I was happy to see that Nolan put in some truly moving scenes that made it able for me to stomach all the pseudo science and the illogical actions of some characters. It astonishes me that Nolan still does not know how to make his characters talk or act like human beings in all of his scenes. In one scene particular this was very annoying and completely unbelievable. Because if that would happen to real people they would not respond calm and calculated. Let alone take the time to have a dialogue. For a film that tries to copy 2001: A Space Odyssey it sure failed to learn how dialogue could be handled. But right after this scene another one happens where  a character acts beyond stupid that even the simplest of minds would go: not even i would do that. Honestly this turned this very serious film almost into a farce. And it gets worse. Long before the scene ends you already know what is going to happen. Only Nolan makes you wait. He lets you endure this scene to a point it makes you angry and shout at the screen. Be done with this scene already. Move on for god's sake. Robbing you of yet more minutes of your life that was not necessary at all. Honestly I keep hearing how Christopher Nolan is so brilliant but he sure is very inconsistent when it comes to editing. At this point though the film starts to pick up the pace again where we get a scene that is very reminiscent of the last part in 2001: A Space Odyssey which I was liking very much until Nolan ruined it by explaining everything again. You don't always have to explain things. In this case leaving it open for interpretation would have made it a powerful scene. Anyways everything after was decent to nice enough even if it still contained illogical behaviour. 

I don't know how to feel about this film. Most of Christopher Nolan movies have this effect on me. Visually always compelling but substance wise it's either pretentious or simply lacking so many elements that make it worth my while.  And if Nolan could back up on the promise to deliver then I would not mind the flaws but he rarely does so. I truly think Nolan is very overrated as a director and nearly not as clever as everyone thinks he is. Most of the time Nolan relies on gimmicks. And when you are on to the gimmick there is nothing else to find because I think one of his biggest flaws is that he does not know how to tell a story properly. His characters very rarely act like real human beings so that you ever truly care about them. Here you don't notice it that much because the acting is really good but the dialogue. The dialogue is horrendous. Overall I think as Nolan movies go this one does have some merit but nearly not enough as made out to be. I find it quite disconcerting that so many people are raving and praising him like he is the second coming. He is not. He knows a few tricks and that is it. If you fail to grab my full attention or keep making me angry at the end because you are copping out somehow then you are doing something wrong. And I know that a lot of people will have a fit if someone would ever say something critical about Christopher Nolan. I don't care. Most of you are wrong about him and you know it. Interstellar had a very intriguing premise which had a lot of promise but in the end it gets ruined by how it is executed. Not a complete waste of time but do prepared to become angry. And don't fall for the hype or the popular votes. That is no way says something about the quality of this film.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review Foxcatcher (2014)

genre: drama, sports

For me the tale that was told in Foxcatcher was new. To find out that it is based on true events makes me quite sad. Right from the moment John du Pont comes into the picture you notice something is off about him. At first you give him slack because he is a billionaire and he might be a little eccentric. And that does not always have to mean a bad thing. However du Pont goes from a little eccentric and creepy to downright evil. Steve Carrel does an amazing job to give this evil a face. At times you feel that du Pont is a troubled man and you feel sorry for him. His relationship with his mother is quite cold. However there were only a few scenes of how they were together. We never actually got any scenes how she truly felt about him. It looked to me like she and everyone else were indulging him knowing very well he was not mentally stable. But this is all speculation on my part since we are never told exactly why John du Pont was who he was. What this film does brilliantly is to let you know that something is brooding but you don't know quite what that is. (Assuming you never heard about these events like I did). More and more it gets unnerving. I do have some questions about the Schultz brothers though. They both are very aware something is very wrong with the guy but they stay with du Pont's wrestling team called Foxcatcher. In the movie it is not explained explicitly but in this article History versus Hollywood  it is said that back then wrestlers didn't earn a lot of money. Which is quite vital I think since it gives you an idea of why the brothers felt stuck and had no choice but to stay on. They should have made it a little more clearer. Especially since Mark Schultz barely speaks. You never quite know what he is thinking or what he wants. Somehow I doubt the real Mark Schultz is this quiet or fragile. Special mention needs to go to Mark Ruffalo. His character was very likable and made you care about him. Foxcatcher is a movie that will stick to you for a long time because again this is proof that real life events are even more horrifying than fiction. Because of the slow pace this might not be for everyone. But you do get rewarded for your patience and actually the slow pace adds to the build up in tension.  Certainly one to watch!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review Fury (2014)

genre: war, action, drama

This does contain some (mild) spoilers so read at your own risk. Normally I don't do this but in this case I am mentioning some plot events to explain why I had such a hard time liking this film.

David Ayer the director of Fury aimed for more realism than other World War II dramas. Maybe there was some. But from what I have seen most events were illogical and made no sense whatsoever. Best job ever! Especially the last battle scene, I mean honestly. That was not realistic. It was lunacy. And if the director thinks he can fool me with such nonsense then I am not falling for it. Fury does not even try to tell a story. Or make you care for the characters. All of them are unlikable and the film makes you believe that is because of the atrocities of war and what they had to endure. I get that war is no joke and that seeing people die in the most monstrous ways is hard to stomach. But to kill people, prisoners in cold blood to teach a rookie soldier a very valuable lesson. And that none of the other soldiers interfered or even uttered their disgust to this situation was appalling. Then a scene later they invade an apartment with two women where you can feel the tension because something truly bad might happen. Any sympathy you might have had for the characters by then is gone. Was it the goal to show us these horrors? Why then focus the rest of the film on the characters desperately trying to make them look heroic. Or maybe this was yet again to show that some soldiers were pure psychopaths and had no common sense. Whatever the director was trying to convey it was lost on me. For me Fury was completely pointless and redundant. Much better war movies have been made where they showed different sides and point of views but still managed to show humanity in some of the characters. Here the anti heroes just go from bad to evil and I am supposed to root for them? As an action film this also fails. It seemed more like Star Wars at one point. And I read about this and it is said that it was accurate and the light beams were caused by tracers they were using. Ok I get that. But did the Germans happen to use green ones? Since I was unable to root for the main characters I could not be bothered to care what happened to them. Most action scenes did not have the context needed to make you feel in a certain way. They were hardly exciting or hard hitting. Only in a couple of scenes I felt for the rookie soldier but he too succumbed to the madness of war so very quickly. But even if everything is a realistic portrayal I simply saw nothing in this film I cared for.  I can't recommend this one.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

genre: comedy, adventure, crime, drama

Until this point I had never watched a Wes Anderson film and this one just might have convinced me to catch up on his work. I thoroughly enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and a lot has to do with the wonderful characters and the quirkiness of this film. While most of the events play out like that of an old school farce there are some subtle serious themes like fascism and war hidden behind all the craziness. It's mostly a comedy with a kind of humour I can appreciate. Which is the more subtle kind. Then at very pivotal moments this film manages to get to you, move you when you least expect it.  These moments are very brief but have a large impact.  And all of this is presented in very artistic and stylish manner. On top of this a lot of well known actors appear and no matter how short still make an impression. The plot might not be the most complicated. But like I said a lot is hidden or displayed very subtly that at times do make you think. It wasn't as evasive as some of the big Oscar movies tend to do. The acting was very good especially Ralph Fiennes  as Gustave and his protégé Zero played by Tony Revolori. Their on screen chemistry is amazing and they get the best out of a scene even if not much is going on. Overall this surely is one I can recommend. And I hope it will do well with the Oscars this year.