Two Film Review : Interstellar and Birdman

You may be wondering why I’m lumping these three films into one post. Well, fact of the matter is that both Interstellar and Birdman need second viewings from me to really get into full review mode. I have pretty laid out opinions on both but I don’t think I could justify a full post for each one without having seen the film a second time.

IMDB Score – 8.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 73%

Directed By – Christopher Nolan
Starring – Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin, Wes Bentley, Josh Stewart, David Gyasi, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, Topher race, and fucking finally, Ellen Burystn

A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to find a potentially habitable planet that will sustain humanity.

Okay, I need to get this out of the way first. I saw this film almost three weeks ago. If you have not seen this film in a REAL IMAX theater with 70mm film, please do so. It will most likely be one of the last times you will seeing something this new be projected on film. The projectionist in me had a field day with this one. I was privileged to be able to see this at the Lincoln Center IMAX which is one of the largest screens in the country and most likely the world. Regardless of your opinion of the film, it’s something to be seen in 70mm before film goes the way of the 8 track and seatbeltless vehicles.

That being said, I didn’t particularly love this movie. I didn’t really hate it either. What I ultimately came to was a feeling of mild satisfaction mixed with utter bewilderment. I’ve been a fan of Nolan from the beginning. I generally believe The Dark Knight, Memento, and The Prestige to be some of the best films of the decade. Interstellar marks the second film in a row from Nolan that not only failed to meet my expectations but seemed to lack in the screenwriting that characterized his earlier films. This was just a mess story wise from beginning to end. In fact, parts of it nearly ruined the whole thing for me.There were instances in the film where decisions were made at the blink of an eye, huge decisions, LIFE ALTERING DECISIONS, MADE AFTER ABOUT TEN MINUTES OF THOUGHT. Seriously, Matthew McConaughey’s character Cooper is the worst father ever. What he does to his daughter in this film is just atrocious. I hated his character for like 40 minutes after this happened. There is also huge jumps in timeline. Basically Matthew McConaughey goes from farmer to in space in like three days. Sure, he was a NASA fighter pilot a long ass time ago, but you don’t get trained for space in three days. You just don’t do it.

The dialogue was also pretty bad. Anne Hathaway delivers a monologue in the middle of the film, about love, that nearly had me puking in the auditorium. It came off so cheesy and forced that I couldn’t stand it. A big character reveal in the middle of the film also progressed in a way that could be seen a mile away. This character also forgets who he is and ruins pretty much everything. The end of the film, which will be talked about for some time as it is very “2001”-esque, kind of muddles the entire thing for me. Like, I get where they were going with that. I get how unimaginable space can be an how it works, but to put it all together like that just seemed like Nolan was trying to be more profound than he needed to be. I don’t like throwing around the word pretentious often because I think that it insults creativity, but the end of this film teetered on being a bit pretentious. Also, the BIG emotional reunion end the end of the film, the one that the audience has been waiting for the entire three fucking hours, was over in like four sentences. Seriously, fuck Matthew McConaughey’s character in this movie. He’s the worst.

What did I like? First off the acting was pretty top notch. Matthew McConaughey was in full form as he has been for the past two years. There are a few scenes in this movie that really struck a chord with me emotionally and that was all on MM. Michael Caine continues to be sad Michael Caine and that’s okay because the man is a true legend and makes my eyes water every time he is sad. The voice acting from Bill Irwin, who voices the robot TARS, was a wonderful addition to the cast and might have been my favorite character. The robots were awesome by the way. At first I thought they were too weird but then I really got into the functionality of them. The action and space sequences were gorgeous to watch in 70mm. It made the effort to see this is IMAX all worth while. Also, Mackenzie Foy can act. That girl is going to be big if she continues acting.

Overall the film just wasn’t up to what I thought it was going to be. As far as space movies go, I enjoyed Sunshine and Solaris much more but there were definitely some great reasons to see the film. The camera work, the acting, the practical effects mixed in with CGI, all made this a film to see. It just happened to be a mess in the story telling department that may get better with a clearer viewing but I’m not holding my breath. Nolan gets points for doing it in film though. I’ll give him added points for that.

3/5

IMDB Score – 8.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 94%

Directed By – Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring – Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, and Lindsay Duncan

A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

What a show. I don’t particularly know what the show meant or if I was 100% into it, but what a goddamn show.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the film is shot in a way that looks like one long take. You can tell where the edits are, but the film chugs on like an engine through the entire run time. It didn’t come off gimmicky. It came off glorious. The fact that Emmanuel Lubezki was able to keep every single frame of this movie gorgeous as shit while still maintaining the longness of the shot is a true thing to watch. The film also had this rhythmic drum fill that permeated the entire film from start to finish. It was like a heartbeat, getting faster and louder as scenes unfold into chaos. It was such an opposite kind of feeling from the rest of Iñárritu’s work that it almost made me forget who made the film. His previous movies are all filled with depressing situations and heartbreaking performances. I laughed out loud in this film. I was having a fucking ball. The whole cast pretty much had be heaving. Well, maybe not Emma Stone’s character, but she was still sassy enough to give me a chuckle.

The acting is top notch. We’re going to see at least two major award nominations from this film. Keaton is the star. He is in nearly every scene and completely solidified himself as “back in form”. The film goes into a meta sense as I realized just how alike Keaton and his on screen character Riggan were. Both are actors who portrayed superheros in the 80s and have been away from the spotlight for some time. Both are trying to make a comeback and in the case for Keaton, he does, in a big way. The guy just hit it out of the park. Edward Norton steals every scene he is in. It reminds me a little of when Robert Downey Jr. got an Oscar nomination for Tropic Thunder because he was so goddamn funny. You could make the case for Melissa McCarthy as well but I don’t find her funny. Norton is going to complete that triangle. His character of Mike is so out of his mind that it can only be achieved by Norton, who is himself a lot like his on screen character. He was hysterical and also hammered in the scene chewing jobs just as well. Everybody else was fitting for their role. Emma Stone could sneak in the Oscars but honestly I felt her performance to be a bit overdone. Galafianakis was on point as always. I’ve considered him to be one of the best underrated actors for a while now. Watts finishes the top of the line up as she always does. She’s a professional and it shows.

The only reason I didn’t shower this film with praise is because there are so many subtleties in this film that I just can’t grasp them all right now. The ending left my head spinning a bit and there was a lot of dialogue I missed the meaning of because the film was rolling by my face at a million miles an hour. Will this affect my rating? Not really. It just makes this review a little shorter than usual.

See this film. It’s something that you’ll be thinking of for a long time and itching for a second viewing. I may have to see this again before it leaves theaters.

4.5/5

Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

IMDB Score 8.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 75%

Directed By Martin Scorsese
Starring – Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin, P.J. Byrne, Jon Bernthal, and Matthew McConaughey

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

I feel like I should be on Quaaludes right now as I type this up. I feel like everybody should be on Quaaludes while they read this. How about just…Quaaludes.

Writing this a couple days after Leo won the Golden Globe for Best Actor, I’m starting to realize that this may be the year that Leo finally wins and Oscar, and he would totally deserve it. Leo stars in this absolutely insane film about rich people in the stock market and what kind of luxuries go with that. To my surprise, the theater in which I saw this film was still packed to the brim which was great but also horrible because I always seem to be a magnet for people like to talk during the entire duration of a film. The fact that this was three hours long only impressed me more on how awful people are. Even with those distractions, I still enjoyed the film.

Scorcese has always been a interesting director to me. Sometimes he’ll have a film that is a well balanced machine of great acting, wonderful camera work, and interesting story. Goodfellas, The Departed, Hugo, and Shutter Island come to mind. Then there is the Scorsese that seems to miss on the subject matter but still gets great performances out of his actors. Casino and Gangs of New York featured powerhouse performances but just fell a little short story wise although were entirely entertaining. The Wolf of Wall Street will be joining those two films. It’s a film filled with great acting and fun but really didn’t have any substance to carry in into my top film of the year.

Leo was amazing. I hope he does more comedies because the man is hilarious. The timing he developed with Jonah Hill was amazing to watch and like I said in the beginning I expect him to take home his first Oscar. In a year FILLED to the brim with amazing male performances, I hope Leo takes home the statue. He earned it. Like everything he does, he went full on crazy in this film. The scenes with him on drugs, which is like every scene, were some of the funniest scenes of the year and it was because of the brilliant way Leo controls his face. He’s always been a fantastic actor but this just rounds out his resume as being a jack of all trades. Jonah Hill cemented the fact that he can act with his supporting role as Donny, Belfort’s Vice President.

The film was just a non stop freight train of debauchery that had many people laughing, gasping, and shutting their eyes while also being memorized with the circus unfolding at every angle. The only thing I could say was that the story just didn’t hold up. I honestly didn’t find myself engaged in fact that these people could possibly do serious jail time. I didn’t care if they were caught or died or anything. It was like dumping sprinkles, sugar, chocolates, and ice cream on a steak. The fun and craziness of the film completely overpowered any substance underneath. That being said, it’s one of the few films that adheres to that structure that I still found very good and worth the price of admission, if you can handle it that is.

Shit, the ludes are kicking in.

3.5/5




Film Review : Dallas Buyer Club (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 94%

Directed By – Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring – Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn, Dennis O’Hare

The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.

This is it. This s the year. I’ve been calling it for a while now. My theory that Matthew McConaughey is a fantastic actor is finally coming to fruition. The man is here. This is going to be the year that we’re going to see Matthew McConaughey’s name on a Best Actor nominee list and he earned it. I wouldn’t say He was particularly better than Tom Hanks or Chiwetel Ejiofor but he belongs with them. I just had to say that about my man MM. The other performance of note was Jared Leto. We’ll also be seeing his name on the ballot sheets. In a way this was just as much his coming out party as it was McConaugheys. Both of them shed pounds and just went head on into their roles and it really made for an enjoyable film. The film itself is definitely among the best of this year.

What I liked…

Besides the fantastic acting, this was an enjoyable film. It was raw and real when it had to be and lax to let the story develop when called for. It’s a film ultimately about the value of life and what some people or organizations will do for those values. It did’t get too preachy which to be honest is where I thought it was heading but considering it is based off a true story I couldn’t really have faulted it much anyway. It’s a real film about real people.

What I didn’t like…

Not much really. There were a few dead spots as the whole smuggling drugs from other countries got a little too “Ocean’s 11” for my taste but it was really just a small part.

Overall the film is one of the best I’ve seen this year and a defining moment in the careers of McConaughey and Leto. They earned their praise and then some.

4/5