Update and Film Review – The One I Love (2014)

So, here’s an update on why I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ve been battling depression for the better part of my adult life. Some of you may have read a few things on this website that has dealt with some personal events and thoughts. I try to keep this website movie related but sometimes I just need to write out my feelings on a medium that won’t just be read by myself in a few months. My fathers side of the family is riddled with depression history and while I’ve managed to function correctly since high school, a month ago everything kind of came crashing down. I had a week where the only time I left my bed was to work and the work I did was shit anyway. So I decided to get some help and see a psychiatrist and ask if maybe medication was right for me. I started taking a mild anti-depressant about a week ago and I’m finally finding the energy to sit down and write. I have been watching a few movies here and there but most of them are either films I’ve seen already or movies that have been talked to death. I recently watched all three Indiana Jones films for the first time. Do I need to talk about them? No, because everybody and their mothers have seen those films. Expect more musings from me in the near future. I think I actually might make it to the theater tonight. We shall see. Here’s a short review of something special I saw last night. As always, thanks for reading…

IMDB Score – 7.0
Rotten Tomato Score – 81%
ON NETFLIX

Directed By – Charlie McDowell
Starring – Mark Duplass, Elizabeth Moss, and Ted Danson

Nope. You’re not getting a trailer for this one. Hell, you’re not going to even get much of a review. This is a film that you need to go in blind. The only thing I can tell you is that Duplass and Moss are married and are seeking help in the form of counseling from Danson suggests going away for a weekend. That’s it. That’s all you get. The film isn’t something that is going to absolutely blow you away with mind bending twists and turns, but rather it’s a film that just can’t be talked about in any form of detail without giving away key plot points that make the film a fun watch.

I will say that Moss and Duplass are fantastic together. The chemistry they have resembles a real husband and wife going through a struggle and let’s just say their performances are very layered. I was very impressed with both of them.

The film really gets to the core of what it means to spend your life with somebody you love and while I can’t go into why it does, the ending of the film is very uplifting and promising if you yourself are going through the same problems.

Please see the film. It’s on Netflix. It’s one of my favorites of the year.

4.5/5



Quick Hits : Joe, Tim’s Vermeer, and The Drop

Directed By – David Gordon Green
Starring – Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, and Adriene Mishler

I got a lot of flack for watching this film. Why? I got flack because it stars Nicolas Cage. Why do people hate him so much? The guy is amazing. Half the films he makes are so shit that I can’t even stand to watch the trailer but then the guy will turn in a brilliant performance that knocks you on your ass. Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, Matchstick Men, Adaptation, and now Joe, all fantastic films that are anchored by brilliant Nicolas Cage performances. The man is a working actor and work he does. Cage gives a pretty incredible performance as the title character Joe, an ex con who hires a teenager to help him with work. The teen is played by Tye Sheridan who is starring in yet another film where he befriends a man with questionable character. The reason for this befriendment is because the boy’s father, Wade, is pretty much a complete fucking scumbag. The guy had no redeemable qualities and Joe was there to save the boy. Gary Poulter plays Wade and gives a knockout performance despite never acting in a film before and living on the street. Green picked him off the sidewalks to play the role and while he died after the filming of the movie, his performance as Wade will live on forever.

The film is violent, dark, and unrelentingly depressing but also creates an atmosphere and real sense of feeling. It’s a great film made by a filmmaker who seems to be finding his niche again.

4/5

Directed By Penn and Teller
Starring – Tim Jenison

Holy hell did I enjoy this film. By the end I was almost ready to pick up my paint brush and start painting something. Tim Jenison invents TV broadcast equipment and is an all around smart as shit person. One day he decides that he’s going to try to paint a replica of a painting by one of the greatest painter of all time, Johannes Vermeer. A Vermeer is worth millions due to the fact that it is so photo realistic despite being painted almost 400 years ago. Tim, who is not a painter by any means, is going to try to paint a Vermeer solely with the help of a mirror and an ungodly amount of time and patience. There really isn’t much to analyse here. The guy is just fascinating to watch and I was surprised by how well Penn and Teller made this film. Teller filmed it and Penn narrated and I’m sure produced. Those guys are just too talented to exist anymore. It’s like not even fair.

The film is a joy to watch if you’re even slightly into painting and even if you’re not, it’s still a fucking blast. I had a huge smile on my face throughout the whole damn thing. It’s my favorite documentary of the year.

4.5/5

Directed by – Michaël R. Roskam
Starring – Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, and Ann Dowd

I’ve been waiting for this film for a long time. I’m a pretty big fan of Michaël R. Roskam’s Bullhead and own it on Blu Ray. When the trailer dropped and I saw that it was adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel I got even more excited. When I found out it has the last on screen appearance of James Gandolfini I marked my calender. The fact that some of my favorite European actors are in it as well certainly added to my anticipation. Well, consider the film a success but one that came with a few flaws. The acting in the film was top notch anchored by Hardy and Gandolfini. We seriously lost a serious talent in Gandolfini who was really coming into his own. It’s a shame we lost him. Hardy builds on his already stellar year with yet another deep and solid performance. I just had a few issues with the story arch and the fact that there are basically two stories to focus on that somehow intertwince by the films end. I enjoyed the film a lot, but the story just wasn’t as good as Lehane’s previous work such as Mystic River or Shutter Island. The camera work and acting however are top notch.

3.5/5

THIS DAY IS HERE! Inherent Vice trailer released!

The day has finally come. I can now stop typing “Inherent Vice trailer” into youtube every other day. Now that I’ve seen it, I will not watch it again so I can go into this thing as blind as humanly possible. I did get thrown off at first by the vibe. The last two films were so dark and complex and this seems more like a mix between Boogie Nights and American Hustle. Josh Brolin yelling broken Mandarin is hilarious and it seems like Phoenix is even more physical than his role in The Master. The film seems more erotic and funny than his previous efforts, but I’ll watch literally anything regardless of subject matter if it was written and directed by aul Thomas Anderson. He’s my favorite director living today and in my top three of all time. I can’t fucking wait for this.

Film Review : Gone Girl (2014)

Too early for ratings…

Directed By – David Fincher
Starring – Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens, and Scoot McNairy

With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

The film ended and the credits began to roll. I expected an applause but there was none. I expected hushed talking and the shuffling of feet as people started to make their way out of the theater. There was none. It was like everybody was afraid to move. Everybody, including myself, was sitting there waiting for more. That, or everybody was just too uncomfortable to be the first one to leave. There was some of that in my motivation to stay in my seat. I was also too embedded in the film to find the cognitive function to stand up and make my feet move. Gone Girl, which was the opening film of the New York Film Festival, had wowed me. I wasn’t fortunate enough to see the film with the stars. I was able to however get a ticket to see the film across the street where the people with the budget on their wallets were allowed to see the film. I actually kind of liked it this way. I was away from all the hoopla and was actually able to focus on what I came there for, to see a film. It was a pretty awesome experience.

I haven’t read the critically acclaimed novel by Gillian Flynn. My reading consists solely of Calvin and Hobbes collections and Anthony Bourdain. I am however very familiar with the man who made the film, David Fincher. I mentioned this in my NYFF preview, Fight Club kind of opened my eyes. Through seeing may other films I began to notice some flaws in the movie but the experience of watching Fight Club in high school and being absolutely stunned silent will live with me for a while. I would rent it, along with Se7en, from my local video store about once a month and show it to my friends. I had never seen anything so dark and dirty before but with just the right amount of light to give the scenes character. I saw Zodiac in the theater and fell asleep through half of it. I was so disappointed with how boring it was. I decided to give it a second chance at home and it’s now one of my favorite films of all time. Funny how that stuff works huh? Like many, I was disappointed with Benjamin Button and Dragon Tattoo but there was something different about his newest film. In a way I guess it just seemed more of a story that hit close to home. I had seen the Swedish Dragon Tattoo films and Benjamin Button seemed to fantastical for my taste. Gone Girl seemed like a story that could happen down the street from me and that just so happens to be the reason I love Zodiac so much. It just felt so real. I had to see it. I purchased my ticket and attended my first film festival.

This is certainly a story you want to go in knowing as little as possible. I mentioned that I didn’t read the book but what I failed to mention was that I really only viewed the trailer once and it was a distracted view. I stayed away from early reviews and TV promos and tried to know as little as possible of the plot. The IMDB description above is all you need. A mans wife disappears and he is left with the media and police who are trying to point fingers and figure out what happened. There really is no reason to read further. I’m obviously going to talk about the film more in depth and while I’m going to be as careful as possible not to reveal anything, you may want to just wait the week and see it for yourself. That’s your warning.

This film is totally about manipulation. The way two people manipulate each other in marriage, the way the media manipulates stories to get good ratings, and the way complete sociopaths manipulate their victims to get away with their crimes, all ever so present in this film. The media is most notably scrutinized by Fincher in a way that reminds me of the Amanda Knox circus that we all went through a couple years ago. The media will focus on what they perceive to be the criminal and they will stop at nothing until the reputation of that person is shattered. Since news is basically 24/7 now, you’re going to start to run out of things to talk about real fast, so you sort of coax more outrageous conversation and theory with your guests and all of a sudden your mole hill is the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It’s sad that instead of Edward R. Murrow reading the days events to us in an unbiased manner, we have Nancy Grace making Elizabeth Smart cry on television after she just returned from being kidnapped for half her life. The swarm of television crews, the swarm of people who are only reacting because of the media, all exist to further complicate and already complicated situation such as having your wife missing. It’s disgusting and the film did a great job highlighting it.

The film also delves into what makes up a marriage. How much are we willing to give up of ourselves to spend our lives with each other. Should we sign a prenuptial agreement? Does that throw trust out of the window from the beginning? Fincher does a great job balancing the past and present relationship between Nick (Affleck) and Amy (Pike). He tells the story from both sides up until the sides start to crumble and we’re left with the truth. Twists are featured but none seem unearned. I was fully engulfed in the story and didn’t think for a second that what I was seeing was poorly done or rushed. Their relationship just seemed so real to me. There are plenty of marriages that have perfect stories and happy endings. There are also marriages full of lies, resentment, and spiteful anger. Fincher gave us a film in which people play nice when other people are watching but deep down inside, they’re trying to destroy each other. It makes television almost seem like another planet. All of it fake.

The acting in the film was pretty concrete. Besides Pike, nobody gave otherworldly performances but rather performances that fit their character and purpose perfectly. I’ve always liked Ben Affleck. I thought he did an excellent job portraying a person who not only lost his wife, but also had no idea how to emotionally handle such a thing. There were times I felt for him and times I wanted to punch him in the face. Pike was the standout of the film. Getting into her performance too much will give away key plots points so lets just say that she goes through a full spectrum of emotions that she nails perfectly. There were a lot of subtle thing going on with both of these people due to the amount of media exposure the case ot and they handled it perfectly. The supporting cast was also great. Carrie Coon, who should be getting more work soon due to her phenomenal performance in “The Leftovers”, plays Nick’s twin sister Margot. She plays the only truly likable character in the film and also delivers the films funniest lines. Tyler Perry was not only not annoying but actually enjoyable as the superstar defense lawyer who is trying to save Nicks ass. Neil Patrick Harris is, well, you’ve never really seen him play somebody like this. Everybody did their job perfectly to form a truly believable and engaging cast.

Lastly, the film is a joy to the eyes and ears. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross team up together to deliver another knockout score to a Fincher film. There is a pivotal scene between Pike and NPH that is taken to a whole other world with the score. I was in shock by the end of the scene. That particular scene also showcased why I love Fincher so much. He leaks style into almost every shot and the beginning and ending fit perfectly into a nice round circle which reminded me a lot of Inside Llewyn Davis. The film had such a dark tone to go along with some black humor and to see mostly every scene shot with dark lighting was something I’ve missed since Zodiac. It helped create a sense of uncomfortability that couldn’t be shaken off even after I was walking out of the theater.

The film releases in a week and I’ll certainly be seeing it again. It’s one of the better mystery films of the last five years and a front runner for my film of the year. If you are a Fincher film in any way shape or form, this film is for you. Just don’t bring your wife or husband with you. You may see things a little differently by the end.

5/5




Film Review : Non-Stop (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.1
Rotten Tomato Score – 60%

Directed By – Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring – Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, and Lupita Nyong’o

An air marshal springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.

Back when I was working at the theater, I had an employee whose movie opinion I was constantly frustrated with but at the same time respected. He loved films I hated and hated films I loved, but always explained his reasoning with sound logic. When this film came out I was convinced it was going to just be another vehicle for Liam Neeson to be a badass and fuck up bad guys. I knew it wasn’t going to be like “The Grey” which was one of the better winter releases of the last couple years. I expected something along the lines of Taken 2 meets Red Eye. My friend lauded the tense build up and reveal being unexpected. Well, he one of those two things correct and one entirely wrong. The latter ended up ruining the entire film for me.

The synopsis above pretty much sums up the plot. Liam Neeson plays an alcoholic air marshall who has zero people skills unless it involves making little girls happy. Julianne Moore literally plays one of the most useless characters I’ve ever seen on film. He character was not needed in ANYTHING. She served no purpose to the plot other than to shift the suspicion from time to time and to be a person Liam Neeson has to save. Julianne Moore is completely wasted in this movie. In fact, the whole cast is pretty much wasted besides Neeson, who still wasn’t that great. Lupita Nyong’o, who won a fucking Oscar, has maybe three or four speaking lines in the entire film, and the ones she has are lines that could have been given by anybody. It’s just really strange how misused the entire cast was.

Despite the cast, the first half of the movie was actually pretty damn engaging and creative. The use of the text messaging, while annoying to most, actually didn’t bother me that much. I was intrigued by how this person was killing people and still being able to text while doing so. Is it stupid? Hell yeah it is, but I was still sucked into figuring it out. The 180 that both the trailer and the synopsis spoils made for some interesting plot devices and I actually wanted to know how Liam Neeson was going to get out of it.

Then the final third started to happen. We start to learn who the real criminal is and I was lost. It was such a disappointment when the big shocker of a twist happens and all I could think was “Really?”. The action in the last third was completely bonkers and the whole problem with the cast came into full play because I didn’t care about anybody anymore. It ruined the whole film for me.

There were ultimately some good techniques used in the first half of the film. The end and the fact that none of the characters had any depth save for Liam Neeson and you really start to lose your audience. It ended up being an average film with a shit ending. I wouldn’t waste your time unless it’s on cable and you have nothing better to do.

2/5