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|11 reviews in total|
American Sniper has been dealing with controversies from its alleged
glorification of Chris Kyle to its portrayal of babies as fake. I'm
going to leave politics at the door and simply review this as a film.
With the exception of the fake baby, American Sniper is a well done film. At 84 years old, Clint Eastwood is still an excellent director. The action scenes are very well shot and the acting is good. Bradley Cooper just received his 3rd Oscar nomination in a row for this film and while I personally wouldn't have nominated him, I won't deny the fact that he continues to prove himself as a very strong actor who can do both comedy and drama effectively. His performance carries the film. His Texan accent is surprisingly believable which is a relief because a bad Texan accent can veer into unintentional hilarity and there are a couple nice subtle moments in particular when his acting stands out (particularly a scene set in a bar). I also liked the way his version of Chris Kyle did not embrace his legendary status, and seemed uncomfortable with people cheering him on for kills. Unfortunately, my praise mostly ends there. The film has so many story issues that really bring it down. It's hard to know where to begin.
I guess I'll start off with the beginning of the movie. We've got a flashback to Chris as a kid. His father tells him that there are three kinds of people in this world: Wolves (the evil people), Sheep (the stupid people who need to be protected), and sheepdogs (the people who protect the sheep). It's a set up for one of the most blatantly obvious metaphors I've ever seen. I don't mind metaphors in film, I enjoy them, but I don't like them being spelled out to the audience.
The one thing that surprised me was that I figured the sheep were either Iraqi or American civilians, but they're actually U.S. Marines. I'm not a Marine and I don't have any Marine family members but I feel like this movie would upset Marines. Most of the film seems to involve Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal, protecting the Marines who seemingly can't do anything themselves. This gets especially ridiculous when Chris literally abandons his sniper post (which is apparently allowed because he doesn't get in trouble for it) to help teach the marines how to properly raid a house, because Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal, even has to do the Marines' jobs for them.
Then there's the character of Mustafa, a Syrian sniper and arguably the main antagonist of the film. Mustafa is not a completely fictional creation as he's mentioned in a single paragraph in Chris Kyle's book as a rumor, but I still feel his character served no purpose. He has no lines and no physical presence so he's not an interesting antagonist. He literally serves as a parallel to Chris Kyle, the evil Chris Kyle, I guess you could say and those parallels sure do get heavy handed at one point. Having scenes from Mustafa's viewpoint honestly really took me out of it. The Hurt Locker was so effective to me because we saw things only from the soldiers' point of view. The insurgents were mysterious figures in the shadows so we were just as in the dark as the main characters were. By including Mustafa's viewpoint, there's no shock for the viewer when a U.S. soldier is killed by an enemy sniper because we literally just saw the sniper's scope seconds earlier. I do think showing both points of view in a conflict can be effective in some films, but since Mustafa is such a boring character, it doesn't work at all here. And the parkour scenes are just laughable and feel like something out of a cheesy action film, not a gritty war drama.
Perhaps the most irritating thing was the way the film squeezes 9/11 into the plot. There's a scene where Chris and his wife are watching the news and see the 9/11 attacks on TV. This scene serves no purpose as Chris goes to war in Iraq, not Afghanistan. Chris joined the Navy Seals in 1999, not 2001, so it had nothing to do with him joining the Seals, and the film shows that Chris Kyle joined the Seals in reaction to the 1998 United States Embassy Bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, so it made sense to show his reaction to those terrorist attacks. Showing 9/11 was just cheap. I've heard people accuse the film of trying to make it seem like the Iraq war was in response to 9/11 but I don't think it was intentional deceit. However, I do think the film used 9/11 as a cheap plot device to emotionally charge the audience which isn't much better.
Besides that, Sienna Miller (the only other actor in the film with more than 10 minutes of screen time) doesn't have a lot to do and ultimately brings little to her performance as Chris' wife. I thought the PTSD portrayal was also solid, particularly a scene involving a dog, but the PTSD scenes are such a small portion of the film and it felt simplified by the end.
As for the ending, well I wasn't a fan of it. I won't explain it for those who don't know the actual story (though I imagine most people do at this point). I'm guessing Eastwood and co. thought it would be exploitative to show what could have been the film's climatic scene, but I feel it would have been a lot less exploitative than showing 9/11, because at least the unseen climax has to do with the main plot. But I'll admit that's entirely subjective. Ultimately, American Sniper a technically well done film with far too many story problems to ignore.
Foxcatcher...I've been waiting for Foxcatcher for over a year and I am
so glad that it was worth it. It's been a great year for movies but
Foxcatcher might be my favorite of the year. It's a true experience.
Arguably a really dark deconstruction of The American Dream, Foxcatcher
is weird, creepy, and often disturbing but never at the expense of the
For those who don't know the plot, I'll give a quick synopsis. It's the last 1980s and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is an Olympic Gold wrestler though he's frequently lived in the shadow of his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), also an Olympic Gold wrestler. Mark is taken in by Jon du Pont (Steve Carell), a millionaire wrestling enthusiast. du Pont has issues to say the least and a very strange relationship begins between the two.
Lets talk about the acting, though it's hard to add much new to the already praised performances. Steve Carell will hopefully have a bright future ahead of him now as a serious film actor. It's such a bizarre performance since Dupont is such a bizarre character but Carell drew me in from the start. The image of the goofy Michael Scott, the goodhearted Andy Stitzer, even the depressed Frank Ginsberg, were all gone. Jon DuPont was stuck in my head and he was the only thing that I saw. It's a shame he's no longer an Oscar frontrunner.
And it turns out Channing Tatum can act! Who knew? While he did prove himself to be a good comedic actor in 21 Jump Street, I still had my doubts about him as a serious actor especially after seeing films like Dear John. I'm glad I was proved wrong. It was definitely a risk casting him but it clearly paid off. His performance is a wonderful mix of intensity and innocence/naivete.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Ruffalo. I knew his performance was acclaimed but he was a lot less highlighted in the trailers. Well, I've considered Ruffalo to be a pretty reliable actor since Zodiac and I'm standing by that statement. He definitely deserves a second Oscar nomination. It's a wonderfully subtle and non-flashy performance delivered with the perfect amount of nuance. The scene where he's being interviewed on camera should win the Academy voters.
Vanessa Redgrave also deserves an honorable mention. She has less than 10 minutes of screen time and only speaks in one scene but she did an amazing job. But it's Vanessa Redgrave so that shouldn't really surprise anyone.
Bennett Miller has now officially become one of my favorite directors. I feel he's made 3 masterpieces with Capote, Moneyball, and now Foxcatcher. Foxcatcher is definitely the best of the three.
My only real complaint is that there's a scene near the end where the film jumps forward several years. At least it jumps several years forward in real life. The film gives little indication that that much time has passed. There's no real reason for the movie to not include a title card to make things more clear for the audience.
Regardless, Foxcatcher was one of the most engaging movies of the year. I'm surprised that some people have found it slow or boring. Sure, it's not exactly fast paced but I was intrigued by the twisted relationship between Jon DuPont and Mark Schultz from their opening scene.
Inherent Vice is a hard film to review because it's a hard film to
understand. It does feel...different from past Paul Thomas Anderson
works for better or for worse. It's a film I enjoyed for what it was,
but I can't help but wonder if it could have been more.
Inherent Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix as Doc Sportella, a private investigator and hippie stoner in Los Angeles. Long story short, he ends up investigating the disappearance of Mickey Wolfman, a prominent real estate developer and the lover of his ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterston). He ends up encountering a variety of crazy characters including corrupt cops, neo-Nazis, mysterious drug cartels and dentists along the way. If that confuses you, I can't say that it makes a ton more sense in context.
Inherent Vice's reception has been fairly divisive but the closest thing to a consensus I've heard is that the plot gets confusing really quickly but you just kind of have to go with the flow and enjoy the ride. I basically agree with that consensus. About 45 minutes into the 148 minute film, I stopped trying to figure out what was going on. It's a very layered and dense plot but I do think I'd get some value out of watching it again. One of my friends who saw it had already read Thomas Pynchon's novel and didn't have trouble following the plot. But in a way, the confusing plot almost kind of works. As you give up trying to figure out how all of the conspiracies connect and how everyone is involved, it's almost like a crazy trip which is sorta fitting since the main character is a hippie stoner.
The film still works thanks to its characters. Joaquin Phoenix continues to impress. It's amazing that this is his second outing with Paul Thomas Anderson considering how different his performance was in The Master. It's a very fun and energetic performance but it never feels like he's trying too hard. Katherine Waterston is also excellent as Shasta Fay, one scene in particular really sold me on her future as an actress. Martin Short has a wonderful bit part that had the whole theater laughing. Owen Wilson and Reese Witherspoon got the job done while Benicio Del Toro and especially Michael K. Williams felt underused.
But this film belongs to Josh Brolin, the hippie hating LAPD detective. Brolin stole every scene he was in whether it be kicking a hippie while he's down or yelling in Japanese at a restaurant. It's a performance that I think deserves serious consideration for a Best Supporting Actor nomination and could be Brolin's best performance to date. There's one scene in particular that I'll never forget. I don't want to give any details away as to what happens except I'll say the entire audience was cackling. I had no idea Brolin could be so funny.
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors, though this is definitely one of his weaker efforts. I feel like his other movies have more of a moral or takeaway of some kind while this was more just entertainment (albeit very unusual entertainment). That's not a bad thing but it's not what I expected from him, I guess. But this film looks just as beautiful as his other movies. The Costume design and makeup and hairstyling also deserves Oscar consideration in my opinion.
Inherent Vice isn't the perfect PTA outing but I certainly don't regret watching it and I wouldn't mind watching it again to see if I could grasp more of the plot. Go into it knowing that you might not completely "get it" and you'll have a good time. Perhaps my opinion will change on a rewatch.
True Detective has been a rather unusual series from the get-go. More
than just a detective series, it's been a show about the relationship
between the characters of Cohle and Rust. The ending really shines
through that point in my opinion and because of that, some people won't
be happy with how it ends.
In the end, I liked the way things played out. It was intense without being too unrealistic (obviously not everything was 100% plausible, but that's to be expected) and it featured the excellent performances from the 2 leads that we've come to be greatly acquainted with. It's hard to say more without spoiling it, but it's hard to picture Matthew McConaughey not winning outstanding lead actor in a miniseries at the Emmys this September. If Harrelson runs as a supporting actor, I think he'll win as well. Although they are essentially equals on the show.
The common complaint is that not everything is wrapped up. The storyline still has some loose ends for better or for worse. Whether this is good or bad will ultimately come down to personal taste, but I'm glad the show didn't wrap up everything perfectly. A little ambiguity never hurt in my opinion. A quote in the episode perfectly sums up why I think having some loose ends is OK.
The final scene is also unusual and one that I can't go into detail with. I certainly wasn't anticipating a scene like that and once again, it'll come down to the viewer on whether or not you "buy" into the final scene. But I enjoyed it. I thought it was effective and it's still playing in my head over and over again.
In the end, the True Detective finale may not be the best episode of the season, but it was still suspenseful and intriguing. I'm more than curious to see what season 2 will have for us and I think the first season of True Detective will go down as one of the best seasons on television. I was happy to have taken this journey with Rust and Marty.
First off, for the thousandth time, this is NOT a remake of the Swedish
film. It's an adaptation of the book. This is evident by the fact that
several things in the book were kept in this movie but not in the
Secondly, this is NOT a Hollywood phone it in cash grabber. This is a thriller made to near perfection.
I'm a big fan of the Swedish version. I thought that Noomi Rapace did an incredible job and the story was interesting and fun to watch but it wasn't without it's flaws.
The American version is simply better in my opinion. Daniel Craig did a far better job as Mikael Blomvkist and Rooney Mara gave a tour de force performance as Lisbeth. I actually thought that she did better than Noomi Rapace.
We also have some really strong supporting performances including Henrik Vanger who hires Mikael Blomvkist (Daniel Craig) to investigate the disappearance and presumed death of his great niece. Stellan Skarsgård plays Martin Vanger, the brother of the missing girl and is also very strong.
The film starts off a bit slow but it's not boring and it only becomes more and more exciting as it goes on. Even though I had already seen the Swedish film, Fincher creates such a great atmosphere that I still felt my heart racing.
The score by Trent Reznor (who won an Oscar last year for The Social Network) is also beautiful. It's subtle and perfectly sets the tone for the story.
This film also succeeds where the Swedish version faulted. The Swedish version felt unnecessarily convoluted at times while the American version, while complex, never felt confusing. Also, the final half hour of the Swedish version felt dull and draggy while the American version kept my interest. The American version also has a much better ending. If you're a fan of the book, be sure to check it out. If you're a fan of the Swedish film, be sure to check it out. If this is your first time meeting Lisbeth and Mikael, then definitely check it out. This is classic Fincher. Dark, stylish, and brilliant. One of the best films of the year. Easily in my top 5.
This was an interesting one. As many people have put it, it's like
Black Hawk Down with aliens. Now I'll admit, I'm not really the biggest
Black Hawk Down fan, so maybe that's why I didn't like this movie,
though I did actually find this to be better than Black Hawk Down. but
not that much better.
This film is a by the books alien invasion flick. Nothing special, nothing to write home about. The action scenes are alright, I guess. A LOT of shaky cam. Got pretty irritating after about 45 minutes. There's not much...depth in this film. We've got like 15 characters but there are cardboard cutouts. You'll basically remember the characters as "Aaron Eckhart", "Hispanic Marine Sgt.", "Michelle Rodrigurez", "Black Marine with glasses," "Black Marine without glasses," "White Marine," "White Marine #2," "Asian Marine," "Marine with heavy African accent," "Michael Pena," "Hispanic Marine #2," and "White Marine from True Blood."
I can't comment on the acting even though I really like Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, and Michael Pena. It's just shouting. Anybody can TALK LIKE THIS AND CALL IT ACTING! Why even cast talented actors if you're not gonna use them for...acting?
Well the story's nothing to write home about. It's better than the disaster that was Skyline, but it's not up to great alien invasion films like Independence Day, Signs, invasion of the body snatchers, Men in Black, or War of the worlds. It's rather dull, bland, and uninspired. I appreciate the way that the film tried to be gritty, but the shaky cam was just distracting.
In the end Battle: Los Angeles, though not horrible, is a mediocre entry in the alien genre. Nothing particularly memorable or interesting. The characters are dull, the plot adds nothing new to the alien invasion genre, and the action scenes are poorly filmed. Pass
Now I'm not calling Armored the next Heat or Dog Day afternoon. It's
not as good as Reservoir Dogs, the usual suspects, Oceans 11 or even
Inside Man or The Town. Nonetheless, it's a solid action movie with
Solid is really the perfect word for this. Everything is solid. The plot is solid. The acting is solid. The suspense is solid. The gritty feel is solid.
the premise is simple enough. Columbus Short plays Ty Hacket, an Armored truck guard and Iraq war veteran struggling to make ends meet for him and his teenage brother. (Their parents are dead). Matt Dillion plays Mike, Ty's co-worker and father figure of sorts. He wants to rob their own armored car with their other workers (played by Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Amaury Nolasco, and Skeet Ulrich).
The heist is pretty poorly planned, but that's what I liked. These characters weren't criminal masterminds, just a couple of ordinary guys who got greedy. Without spoiling too much, the heist obviously goes wrong and next thing you know, Ty has locked himself in one of the trucks with the money.
This film is an example of what I call "trapped movies" (films where the majority of the film involves some trapped in something. Other examples include Buried and 127 hours). The film did a solid job of keeping my attention and staying suspenseful.
The acting is pretty good. This is the first movie I've seen with Columbus Short and I thought he made a strong protagonist. I'd like to see him in other work. The always great Matt Dillion is just as good as he's ever been. The rest of the cast does a good job, but nothing outstanding.
The main problem with this film is the plot holes. There are quite a few illogical things in the film. However, if you're able to successfully suspend disbelief, then you'll have a good time.
The film also asks some interesting questions about money and greed and what Ty could of or should have done in the film. It makes you think.
This film came out in December 2009, (AKA Oscar season). Now this certainly had nothing Oscar worthy, but for what it was, it was pretty entertaining.
I really wanted to love Black Hawk Down. Maybe my expectations were too
high. Everyone was telling me that it's the best war movie ever. It's
not a horrible movie, but I left it feeling disappointed.
Let's point out the things that I enjoyed. -The battle scenes (or should that be singular) were pretty good, though they drag a bit in the later half)
-The sound editing and mixing was good. Felt like I was watching a live battle.
Yeah, technically this movie is great. I didn't like the other aspects much though.
-I understand that this movie is not Saving Pvt. Ryan. It's about the mission, as simple as that. But the fact that the first 30 minutes could have been used to actually establish a few characters instead of just filling in time by having characters chat about random crap, is disappointing. I just wish I could have known who these guys are (or tell them apart for that matter.) "Gordon died! Gordon Died!" *soldiers briefly mourn their loss.* Wait. Who the hell's Gordon?
-The film is not a big political agenda, which I admire, but it's portrayal of Somalia and the people there is so simplistic. They're a bunch of one dimensional savages who drop like flies when killed while the Americans get long drawn out deaths. According to Brenden Sexton, one of the actors, many scenes asking questions like the true purpose of their mission in Somalia, etc., were cut out. Why? I have no idea. The topic of American interventionalism is something that would have been very interesting to explore.
The movie also fails to explain the reasons behind the Somali's opposition to the U.S. military presence in their country.
I can't comment on acting, because they're isn't any. There are maybe 30 lines spoken in the film that aren't simply "get down", "reloading", "*curse word*" etc. The fact that none of the actors have any personality doesn't help the acting either. I guess the acting wasn't bad, so there's that.
The action scenes started out strong, but in the second half, it just kinda dragged and felt redundant. Sometimes movies and shows can be so intense that you feel emotonally exhausted (the "Chaos" episode of Southland or the "Ozymandias" episode of Breaking Bad) and Black Hawk down definitely tried to do that, but I was so uninterested in anything going on that it failed to have that effect on me.
it just didn't work for me. Most people seem to love it. Professional film critics, IMDb, and that's fine. I just don't agree. It's alright, I guess, not something that I plan on watching a second time. It simplifies a real life event and takes what could have been an interesting story into a fairly dull war film, but that's just me.
OK, so maybe Hurt Locker isn't as good as Platoon or Saving Pvt. Ryan,
but it's an incredible movie nonetheless and, in my opinion, 100%
worthy of the best picture, best director, and best original screenplay
First, let me address the Iraq war veterans. First off, I have a lot of respect for our troops. I wish you all the best. However, I think you're going way too hard on this movie. I've actually seen a few vets who have enjoyed it. Anyways, you simply must remember that this is a movie, not a documentary. It's performance art. It's entertainment. I know a firefighter who enjoys the movie ladder 49 despite some inaccuracies. I also know a cop who enjoys cop shows, despite them not always being realistic. Why? Because they're ENTERTAINING! I understand that EOd probably does work different in real life, but this movie had a goal and it succeeded. It entertained me, as it should have.
OK. now the actual movie. The Hurt Locker is a superb war drama. It's superbly acted, superbly filmed, superbly written. Nearly flawless.
alright, so the premise involves an EOD squad and their VERY dangerous job of disarming bombs. After their team leader is killed, Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) now have to work with a new leader Sgt. First class William James (Jeremy Renner) a reckless, but ultimately well intentioned and skilled bomb defuser. The film is a character study of the relationship between these 3 characters and how the war affects them.
This movie is REALLY Suspenseful! In nearly every scene, my heart was pumping, my eyes were glued to the screen. It was intense. This is a suspense film, not an action film. So don't go into this expecting Black Hawk Down (Aka a 2 hour shootout).
The acting is superb. Jeremy Renner was simply incredible. Anthony Mackie was robbed of an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor and, in some ways, I think Brian Geraghty deserved an Oscar nomination as well.
The film effectively uses the shaky cam. Unlike some war movies (*cough* Battle: LA *Cough*) the shaky cam makes a sense of realism, but doesn't do so much pointless shaking that the viewer gets a headache.
The characters are complex and well rounded. It was interesting seeing how Sgt. James develops, as he starts out as incredibly unlikable, but becomes far more sympathetic over time. This is a unique war film. Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for best director, not because she's a woman, but because she made an amazing movie. I love this film. Love it so much.
Now the complaints, which are minor The cameo from David Morse is pretty pointless. All that he does is say stuff that the audience is totally aware of. ("Hey James, you're a wild man, but I like you") You have to suspend disbelief a bit. The characters make a few poor logic choices for instance.
Yeah, those are the only complaints I can think of. in my opinion, made with the intention of respecting our troops overseas. The good outweighs the bad. A fantastic movie, worthy of it's awards.
I've been waiting for this movie for 2 years. I loved Duncan Jones'
last film/debut Moon.
It was worth it.
Source Code is the best movie that I've seen so far this year. Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Captain Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Military. He wakes up on a train in the body of a man named Sean Fentress. Across from him is a woman named Christina played by the always wonderful Michelle Monaghan. After a few minutes of being confused as hell BOOM! We start out with a big CG building and it's like AUGGH! Then Helicopters burst into flames and they're like AUGH! BOOM! AUGH! Then motorcycles burst into flames while they jump over these helicopters. An 18 wheeler spins out of control and its all like BROSH! And this huge tanker full of dynamite is like BRAH! BRAHH!
In other words the train blew up.
Turns out that Colter Stevens is in a computer program called the Source Code which allows him to enter somebody's body for the last 8 minutes of his life. Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright play the people in charge of the Source Code. They are very good in their supporting roles. Stevens' job is quite simple: Find the bomber so the next attack can be prevented.
So some might argue that this movie isn't original, but they'd actually be kinda wrong. Yes, this movie features Groundhog's day formula and it's about terrorism. It's been compared to a crapload of movies including
■Groundhog Day ■Inception ■Déjà vu ■12 Monkeys ■Quantum Leap ■The Butterfly Effect ■Memento ■Avatar ■Assasin's Creed ■Vantage Point ■Unstoppable ■Prince of Persia: The sands of time ■Final Destination
I haven't seen all of these, but I've seen most of them. Let me say right now that Source Code is not that similar to any of those films. Source Code is great, intelligent, entertaining science fiction. There are many great things to say. First off, the acting is fantastic by everybody. Gyllenhaal is in this movie for nearly every frame and he's great in every scene. This is one of his best performances to date and he's had a lot of good performances. Michelle Monaghan has this innocent charm with her character. Vera Farmiga and the very underrated Jeffrey Wright give very interesting and complex performances as well. This film is a whodunit, and lately a lot of those have had rather obvious answers to who did it. The guilty person and/or persons in this movie is NOT obvious. Not at all. At least not to me. A film like this could have suffered from being repetitive since Gyllenhaal repeats the same 8 minutes over and over again, but each time is significantly different from the last so the film feels fresh throughout. The best thing about the movie though is the human story in it. It's really emotionally connecting especially around the end. Stevens was a very, very likable character who I wanted to succeed. The message is moving. The ending is fascinating. I think too many people are calling it off as a plot hole. Its clearly meant to be open to interpretation, kind of like Inception. Lots of people think that it should have ended 10 minutes earlier, but I thought it had a very strong ending. The movie clocks in at a mere 93 minutes, but every second is great.
Sure, a real life Source Code isn't a computer program, but I don't get why so many damn people are complaining about that. Another note is that the trailer is a tiny bit misleading. It makes it seem like the whole movie is about Gyllenhaal trying save Michelle Monaghan in a typical "save the girl" formula. It's not. The movie is about Gyllenhaal looking for the bomber and it's entertaining all the way through.
Sadly Source Code hasn't done good at the box office. It's too bad, because it deserves a LOT of money.
Source Code may not be quite as good as Moon, but it's damn close.
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