Film Review : Spring (2015)

IMDB Score – 6.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 89%
Metacritic Score – 69/100

Directed By – Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead
Starring – Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Francesco Carnelutti, Augie Duke, and Jeremy Gardner

A young man in a personal tailspin flees the US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a woman harboring a dark, primordial secret.

I’ve bitched on this site before about how Horror movies need to start getting more creative. I’ve said that even if the acting or visuals are lacking in places, an original script can triumph over anything. This is case and point when it comes to Spring, directed by the guys who gave us the original film about addiction and the supernatural, “Resolution”. The trailer posted above doesn’t give TOO much away. It certainly is better to go into this, like every movie, knowing as little as possible. Seeing it won’t ruin much though. The film centers around a guy named Evan who goes to Italy to get away from his depressing life full of heartbreak and failure. He meets a girl named Louise and over the course of the next week, things happen.

So the film is labeled as a horror movie I mean, I opened up this review by talking about horror movies so what else would it be? This is a special kind of film though. The horror elements will satisfy people looking to get creeped out and scared, but this film has much deeper meaning and effect. The heart of Spring is the romance between these two lovers. The fact that the romantic aspect is coupled with a sci-fi/monster/horror film makes it that more special. This isn’t Jennifer’s Body, which was horrible apparently, but it also isn’t Let The Right One In. The story begins to unfold more towards the end of the film and here is where the real beauty lies. The mythology, while a bit confusing at times, still presents something I haven’t seen before in film. Telling what that is would spoil the story, but trust me, it’s interesting. The film also utilizes some straight forward romantic writing, almost as if Benson watched the Before trilogy a bunch of times before writing this script. I’m a sucker for those kind of films, so I ate this right up.

It’s not perfect though. For one, I wasn’t fond of the acting that much. Nadia Hilker was very good and this film should serve as a stepping stone to bigger things, but the acting from the rest of the cast was average at best. I just couldn’t see Evan, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, as a real person. I felt I was watching an actor. That’s never good. I don’t feel he’s a bad actor by any means. Hell, we’ve all seen a thousand worse performances from indie film actors. A story like this just needed a strong male performance to go along with Hilker and the nature of the script. The plot was also muddy at times. I got the gist of the film and the impact was felt, but it could have been a lot more polished and clean. I had to do a bit of reading afterward to get most of the story arcs.

The film is also gorgeously shot on location in Italy. I’ve always read that Italy can be a bit of a drag with all the tourists and scam artists buzzing around major cities and villages. The main town that this film takes place in however is a fucking beautiful place that I feel I could visit and never come back from. The lush landscape was captured very well by what I’m assuming was a drone camera. Lots of great shots of waves crashing onto rocks and some great color grading that gave the film a warmth about it. It was pretty.

My movie watching habits are changing. I’m finding less time to watch films and less things in the theater interest me. As long as I have films like this come in the mail however, film will still fascinate me. I love original ideas and I love when these ideas come in hybrid packages. Romantic horror films like this could end up becoming one of my favorite things to watch if their done correctly. This is definitely worth the watch and I’ll be anxiously waiting to see what Benson and Moorehead come up with next.

4/5



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Film Review : Enough Said (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 96%

Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress – Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Screen Actors Guild Nomination for Best Actor – James Gandolfini

Directed By – Nicole Holofcener
Starring – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Tracey Fairaway, Eve Hewson, and Toby Huss

A divorced woman who decides to pursue the man she’s interested in learns he’s her new friend’s ex-husband.

I didn’t think this movie was going to be for me. Why? Well, I’m 24, not married, never been married, and don’t have children. I thought it was going to be a film that I appreciated but didn’t really understand. In a way, I didn’t understand, but the performances from the two leads and a superb first half left a lasting impression. It’s also good to note that the late James Gandolfini left us with one more amazing performance capping off an entire career of them.

Enough Said is about two middle aged recently divorced parents who meet at a party and take a chance with one another and go out on a date. This is where the magic of the film resided with me. If this was a film starring any other combination of people I don’t think I would have liked it as much but the chemistry between Louis-DreyFus and Gandolfini had me belly laughing from how, well, freakin’ adorable it was. These were two people who had been through the dating scene, found somebody they thought they loved, lived through a divorce, and are now trying again. It was fun watching them feel each other out, stumble through awkward conversations, and basically act like kids again. James Gandolfini, who is famous for being a brash and brutal human being, was funny, endearing, and kind. It was a version of him that people don’t really get to see. It really shined a light on his acting chops and it’s sad we won’t be able to see more of that with his passing. Julia Louis-Dreyfus complimented her partner perfectly and as the film revolves mostly around her journey, she proved to be an exceptional emotional force as she leap through comedy into melancholy gracefully. Honestly, I think she got robbed this year at the Oscars. I would have loved to have seen her up there instead of maybe Amy Adams. Adams was great but Dreyfus kind of came out of the blue to deliver such a real performance in this film.

The only real gripe with the film is one that I can’t help but have. I hate scenarios like the one that Dreyfus found herself in during the middle and end of the film. Now this isn’t particularly a spoiler due to the fact that it’s in the synopsis but her character is a masseuse who finds herself working for and eventually becoming friends with her boyfriends ex wife. Catherine Keener, who plays the ex wife has no problem talking shit about her ex husband, whom Dreyfus is emotionally involved with, and instead of ending that relationship then and there, Dreyfus keeps quiet and lets the situation play out. I have always cringed at these situations and rarely enjoy them when they happen. It’s like those old fashioned sitcoms where the male character sets up two dates ON THE SAME NIGHT? OH MAN HOW IS HE GOING TO SWING THIS ONE? I have always found it annoying that people would put themselves in these idiotic situations and I find myself squirming and waiting for it to end. Now, I understand the importance that this situations holds in the context of the film, but it just took me out of it for a good forty five minutes. The beginning of the film was just so sweet and perfect and it was overshadowed a little bit by too much awkwardness. The film thankfully ended on a better note.

That being said, I enjoyed the film a lot. I loved the acting from both leads and the dialogue/writing was smart, witty, and most of all funny. It’s a shame we lost such a great actor in James Gandolfini but I’m glad that he at least was able to give us one final gem as he teamed up with Julia Louis-Dreyfus to give us and on screen couple that should be up near the top of the best couples in recent film history.

4/5

Suggested ViewingCrazy Stupid Love, Lost in Translation, Away We Go



Film Review : Her (2013)

IMDB Score – (Currently) 8.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 91%

Golden Globe Nominee for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay

Directed By – Spike Jonze
Starring – Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde, and Rooney Mara

A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

A week ago I thought I saw my film of the year. Inside Llewyn Davis was a bleak and ultimately devastating story about a folk singer who can never catch a break. It was soulful and moving and really just hit me in a way that no other film this year hit me. “Her” is the complete opposite. It is soulful and devastating but in the complete opposite direction. They are my ying and yang picks for films of the year.

I’ve been a fan of Spike Jonze since seeing him wear granny make-up and swing his boobs around in “Jackass”. His music videos are some of the most memorable videos of the late 90’s and early 2000’s and his films are visceral experiences that are unique and one of a kind. This time, Jonze puts his pen to the paper and crafts not only the best screenplay of the year, but one of the most intimate and personal films I’ve ever seen. The film stars Theodore, a lonely recently divorced man who is seeking a friend. Theodore walks past a kiosk advertising a new operating system which developing intelligence and personality. The operating that Theodore purchases is named Samantha and is voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The film takes place in an obvious future world but instead of being a dystopian nightmare, the future we see is vibrant and colorful. Social media seems to have evolved into a living breathing entity and everybody walks about with ear pieces in their ears which reads them the news, emails, or just converses with their user. This is really all you should know plot wise as the film grips you and takes you on the ride. Two hours never flew by so fast.

Having some relationship issues of my own at the moment, the film spoke to me. It’s premise is ultimately a very strange one. A man falling in love with a computer? How silly. Is it really that silly? Who is to say that a person can’t have a connection with somebody who is not there physically. I know it is usually frowned upon, but long distance relationships do work in small amounts. Those relationships are kept through phone conversations, letters, and recently with the ability of video conversations. I know people who have gotten married after meeting on the internet. I know people who have had extensive relationships with people miles away. Samantha may be a voice of a computer but in this world, that voice has a mind and personality that only builds more and more every day.

Spike Jonze created a perfect screenplay here. It is nearly flawless in its pacing and immersing in its intimacy. I don’t know what is going on in the mans life but he wrote from the heart and it showed. The whole film radiates red like it’s the center of a beating heart. I’m not usually a huge romance fan. I have been slowly integrating and finding wonderful films of this genre and am really warming up to the idea that romance films can not only be made well, but be considered important pieces of art. Jonze created a piece of art that is directly linked to the heart. Whether we have had many or only a few relationships, we each have gone through life changing events with another person. These events and the time we spend with somebody builds our character. They make us into the people we will eventually become. This is the main theme of Her. The relationships we have with other people, whether they end badly or flourish, create the people we turn into and help us learn from our mistakes until the next person comes along. I just can’t write enough how touched and moved I was with this film after this year. I have regretted more things than I can count. I wish I could change things. I wish there were some way to do things different. This is no way though. Those things happened and it’s only up to me to make sure that the future is made with all the love and happiness I experienced along the way. That is human nature. We push on and try to maintain happiness. The film just reiterated to me that everything is going to be okay.

I’m sorry I got a little personal there. It just it me hard.

The aesthetics of the film should also be noted. It’s a gorgeous film. Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema should honestly win all the awards for this. As I stated before the film just radiates red which only goes to further the emotions thrown at us by the cast. Geez I haven’t even mentioned the cast. Scarlett Johansson could actually be nominated for a supporting role in which she doesn’t appear on screen in any way. She was that good. It was just a voice but it represented one half of a completely real and touching relationship with co-star Joaquin Phoenix who was incredible as always. Phoenix, who appears in nearly every single scene dominates as a lonely man who finally finds love after going through a difficult and draining divorce. Amy Adams, who really can’t do anything wrong recently, rounds out the trio by giving a heartwarming performance as Theodores friend and neighbor. It’s a film full of just amazing everything.

Go see this film. Take your girlfriend. Take somebody who is going through a rough time or recently lost somebody they love. It is a smart, funny, and incredibly real science fiction film that produces such honest and earned emotional response. Some people won’t get past the premise, but the people who have experienced loss in their lives are going to feel amazing at the fact that we still have so much to gain and learn. It’s my top film of the year along with “Inside Llewyn Davis”

5/5




Film Review : In the Mood for Love (2000)

Netflix Instant Watch
IMDB Score : 8.0
RT Score : 88%

Wong Kar-Wai‘s masterpiece about a romance in 1962 Hong Kong. The film follows a man and woman who live in the same apartment complex. Both have a spouse who is constantly away so they help each other pass the time by spending it together. The film’s story is not what makes this a fantastic movie. It follows the same tropes and guidelines that many romantic movies follow. What makes this film amazing is the beautiful cinematography, textured and layered emotions and sensuality, and of course the mood that gets painted for us in each scene. It’s a subtle film that shouts bigger things. Maggie Cheung wheres a different dress in each scene, each one beautiful and completely telling of what mood the scene is trying to project. The dialogue is quick and lasting. There doesn’t need to be a lot of words when you can feel what the characters are feeling just from looking at them. It was a cool experience. Did I mention how beautiful the movie was? Here are some stills…





Great film. Definitely recommended to people who like romance films or want to branch out and try Chinese cinema. Wong Kar-Wai also directed two other fantastic movies in Fallen Angels (On Netflix) and 2046. He’ll be coming out with a new film in the summer called The Grandmaster which was featured in my summer preview.

4.5/5