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MOVIES: What Have You Seen Today? (2017)


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#1 tdalton

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 06:07 AM

Ride Along (2014)

 

A comedy that isn't funny.  How this film was popular back in early 2014 is beyond me.  It's not the least bit funny.  In fact, it's quite boring.

 

0.5/5



#2 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 06:23 AM

Guardians of the Galaxy for the 5th time. Gets better with each viewing.



#3 Professor Pi

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 06:32 PM

Guardians of the Galaxy for the 5th time. Gets better with each viewing.

 

I watched it last night too, at about the same time!  This was my third.



#4 seawolfnyy

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 12:55 AM

Non-Stop (2014)-**1/2

 

Meh.



#5 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 01:40 AM

STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT (1992)

 

 

Haven't seen this since since I was a kid, hilarious so far.



#6 x007AceOfSpades

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 11:52 AM

Alien - 1979 - 5/5 - Directed by Ridley Scott - starring Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerrit

"You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."

 

It's been a few days since I've posted a new review, been busy with a lot of stuff, family stuff/personal stuff, etc. I've been spending a lot of time however on my Xbox playing Creative Assembly's 2014 game, "Alien: Isolation" the video game sequel to the 1979 Ridley Scott film. Playing the game has made me want to scrap plans of seeing The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies in favor of revisiting this science fiction/horror classic. I don't know how many times I've seen this, but each viewing literally feels much more different than the last. It doesn't matter if I know everything about the film or the lore of the franchise, it still has a different, unique effect on me each time. Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Schuset approached fox with the idea of having Jaws in space. Replace the ocean with the open vastness of space, the boat with the Nostromo space ship, fisherman/divers etc with space truckers, and of course, the shark with a xenomorph alien. There's more to Alien than just Jaws In space, as the film relies heavily on atmosphere and suspense. From the opening titles you know this isn't going to be some sort of 70's B-Movie, you know you're watching something far more horrifying. This film confronts fear head on and how it affects the crew on board the Nostromo and how they must attempt to overcome that fear.

 

The first time I saw this, I remember being in my room at night, lights off, blanket draped around me just watching as the horror slowly unravels. Alien takes its time mapping everything out without being dreadfully boring. It wants us to feel a connected to the Nostromo crew and wants us to have an interest in the unknown planetoid, LV-426. It's not boring, it's just brilliantly structured. It takes little over half an hour before we meet the infamous "Space Jockey" and see Kane (John Hurt) attacked by the facehugger. Scott is intent on showing us every little detail possible, on top of just scaring the S*** out of us. It's like watching a nightmare in space, that's literally how it was for me. The subsequent sequels and spin-off/tie-in films took the mythology of the xenomorph and turned it into action (Save for David Fincher's Alien 3, which I greatly like). James Cameron took the alien and made it a regular villain, sure it was scary, but it's Scott who takes this creature stemmed from the disturbing mind of H.R. Giger (may he rest in peace) and creates this petrifying monster. One that stays etched in our minds forever. I still get chills when Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) turns around and sees the xenomorph just staring into him. This rather face-less creature made me scared s***less. The xenomorph is FEAR. Nothing is more terrifying than being alone on a massive space station floating miles and miles away from home, all while something evil lurks in the shadows. In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.

 

I can't give all the credit to Mr. Scott, as it's Dan O'Bannon's script that is overall the work of art and terror. During that time, there hadn't been too many horror themed science fiction films as they were all more or less aimed at families or just about mature. There wasn't an alien film that was just disturbing like this one. He wrote a script that is just absolutely amazing and invites us into the look of the future and twisted-ness of a monster that we would all learn to be afraid of. Same thing with Giger, whose designs really accentuate O'Bannon and Scott's equal vision. From a Gothic-esque vibe to the horrors of bio-mechanical art, he presents a visually stunning future for both the humans, and the aliens.

 

The acting, oh boy the acting, actually the entire cast. What Alien presents is a cast of a variety or ethnic backgrounds, ages, and experience. It's not like a Friday The 13th cast where it's a cast the same age and full of stupidity. Here, you can actually relate to the Nostromo crew, every single one of them, you can find yourself identifying with them. They're all working joe's. Though hidden inside of them lies perhaps the greatest character in all of film history: Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). From the start of the film and all throughout, you have no idea who's is going to live and die. Who will be the last one standing. Over the course you get the sense that Ripley is a very strong centered woman, though very much afraid. It's not until the end of the film where she conquers her fears and finally defeats the xenomorph and is reigning triumphant. By the end, we're more than ready to accept Ripley as a bada** heroine.

 

God it's crazy how a video game can just really bring out my love for a film, especially one like Alien. I just never get sick of watching it, always find new things to explore and focus on and just overall have a disturbing good time. In the three days I've been away from Letterboxd, I've already watched the three Alien sequels and Prometheus, so maybe, just maybe I'll go forward and post reviews for those. If not, then just come back to this review.

 

"I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies."

 

Aliens - 1986 - 5/5 - Directed by James Cameron - starring Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn

"Game over, man! GAME OVER!"

 

If Ridley Scott's Alien is say, The Godfather then James Cameron's Aliens is The Godfather Part II. Now, I've always enjoyed this one immensely, but never hailed it as an absolutely perfect film. That is until now. Leave it to a rewatch to really change my overall views on this film. This viewing of Aliens just felt incredible, probably the best time I've ever had watching it. Ridley Scott and everyone involved in the first made an masterpiece in science fiction and horror, and here, James Cameron does the same thing with action and science fiction. Yes, this sequel has some suspenseful, thrilling moments in it, but overall it's the bigger & badder sequel, and honestly, it's perfect. One of the greatest sequels ever made period.

 

Before I used to dislike the fact that Cameron pretty much dropped entirely the horror aspect in favor of thrilling action scenes, but I can appreciate that. In a sense, Aliens is just the same survival story from the previous film. Instead of centering on the Nostromo crew in the middle of space with a deadly xenomorph lurking in the shadows, we follow Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, returning from the first film) and a group of Colonial Marines. It's still very much Jaws in space, just inside the colony of Hadley's Hope. It's still a survivor story, just with a few more characters and definitely more xenomorph's. They're at the heart of it all on the planetoid LV-426, there's more dangers and the stakes are higher. On the Nostromo it was a crew working to survive and that's what it is with Ripley & the Marines. Either kill or be killed. It's war film, humanity vs. aliens, and a kick a** one at that.

 

Aliens still has a very creepy and dark atmosphere and tone throughout, it just has more action. Cameron doesn't want to make the same exact film as Scott, he want's to make a follow up that picks up where it ended and shift it into more dangers. It's been fifty-seven years in between films and LV-426 is a much more dangerous place than ever. At the end of Alien we see Ripley overcome her fear and become this bada** character, a heroine. Here, Cameron takes that to the next level. It's bad enough that she had to deal with one xenomorph that took out her entire crew on the Nostromo, now she's dealing with an army of them alongside Marines as well as the evil, true nature of the Weyland-Yutani corporation.

 

Ripley's pissed, it's just a nightmare that won't end. She has the experience of dealing with these things, so it's up to her to team with leader of the Marines, Cpl. Hicks (Michael Biehn) and end it all. All while being in the role of the unlikely mother as she protects Newt (Carrie Henn), so she certainly has her hands full in this film. But she overcomes it all, eventually she picks up a gun and goes full bada**, trying to save Newt at the Alien hive where the Queen B**** lies. Ripley has lost too much, crew members, soldiers, and Newt has lost her entire family, so being thrust as the unlikely mother, she must protect her. That's her duty. Save and protect her and kill every last one of those xenomorphs. There's more development to Ellen Ripley in this film, and frankly she is easily the greatest heroine in all of cinema. She even rivals some of the men and stands tall amongst them. She just rocks in this film. Sigourney Weaver is literally perfect for Ellen Ripley, I don't think any other actress could have pulled off the character as great and convincing as she has done. As for the Marines, I fucking love them, each and every one of them. They all have this macho, "take no crap" persona that to some may be stupid, but I like it. That's who they are, they're soldiers, shoot first ask questions later. All of the Colonial Marines have their individual personalities and traits.

 

While I would have went batshit had James Remar stayed on, but Michael Biehn is fantastic as Dwayne Hicks, the eventful leader of the group of soldiers. His a badass character that doesn't need to be this hulking man, he's average height/build but carries a raw presence with him. He has a strong partnership with Ripley, as he does with everyone else. Hudson, played so perfectly by Bill Paxton, the goof-ball of the group is awesome. He's quick to jump to the negativism (serves him right), and you think he has no gut. No heart. He's tough, just scared as s***, but it isn't until the end of the film when he finally steps up and just goes all out, shortly before dying. The rest of the marines are all just as bada** and full character, and you just can't help but build connections to them and be so drawn to them and feel deeply affected by their demises and such. Aliens has an outstanding cast with great acting for great characters.

 

Clocking in at two hours and thirty-four minutes, it's definitely the longest film in the franchise, but is still well paced. it takes an hour or so before the fun (or nightmare) begins, but Cameron is trying to rush anything. He refreshes our memory with Ripley and the events of the first film and introduces us the Marines, as well as other characters such as Burke and the Android Bishop (Paul Reiser and Lance Henriksen, respectively.). He lays everything out and shows us what's at stake, and when the action begins it literally does not stop. It's non-stop, heart-pounding, thrilling action and Cameron manages to only entertain us, but frighten us as well. He does a great job of not trying to entirely match Ridley, but just make this film his own. It has one of my favorite scenes which is where the motion tracker goes crazy and as Ripley looks up in the ceiling, there are the xenomorph's. It's a sort of a last stand moment for everyone with low supplies. A do or die moment and I just love it. It leads in perfectly to the showdown with the xenomorph queen B****with Ripley.

 

Technically speaking, Aliens is just as breathtaking as the first film. The set pieces are are just AMAZING, they complement the action very well, whether it's horrifying or just plain entertainment. From the space station where Ripley wakes up on in the beginning to the colony on LV-426, to the processing station where they are ambushed, and to the hive at the power plant in the end, all are thrilling. It's shot and edited in way that presents all of the action in a clear, suspense manner that is just visually appealing. James Horner's score is even outstanding, being dramatic when needed, and horrific and action oriented it's needed, one of the finest scores in the genre and it was recorded in just four days. The biggest star of the film is of course the effects. I love practical effects, and they are perfect in Aliens, there's no CGI here, lads. It's all men in suits and puppeteer work. It's an impressive film and a masterpiece alone and it gives us a great character in the xenomorph queen B****.

 

Goddamn, I loved this upon rewatch, I want to watch it again. I don't know why, but I just have this re-appreciation for Aliens and I can't stop but praise it (along side Scott's film, the predecessor). It has memorable moments throughout and is just a masterpiece of sequels. Like I said, Aliens is the The Godfather Part II to Alien's The Godfather. Not a lot of sequels, especially ones to masterpieces are ever so great, but Aliens triumphs just as much as the previous film. If only Neill Blomkamp is given the chance to do his Alien film, I think he could truly return the series to the roots or rather style of both Scott and Cameron's film.

 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back and finish playing "Alien: Isolation".

 

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." "F*****' A!"



#7 tdalton

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 03:44 AM

Bad Words (2014)

Bad Words is a comedy starring, produced, and directed by Jason Bateman, which centers around a 40 year old man who finds a loophole in the entry rules for the national spelling bee and ends up competing against children as young as ten years old.

 

Bateman plays Guy Trilby, the aforementioned 40 year old who is about as foul a human being as one can find.  There's really very little in the way of plot in Bad Words, as it's really just centered all around Trilby and the spelling bee itself, but it's Trilby that is the driving force behind everything.  He's one of the more entertaining characters to come around in a while, as foul as he is.  Some of the things he says to people in the film are just so over-the-top that you can't help but laugh at them, as malicious as he often is to those around him.  He borders on being a caricature, but that's all part of the fun.

 

The caricature is avoided thanks to his meeting of Chaitanya Chopra (superbly played by Rohan Chand), a 10 year old competitor in the spelling bee.  The develop a rather warped friendship that is one-sided at first, with Chopra doing all of the work while Trilby is a jerk to him at every turn.  This, however, develops into something more, almost a rather warped father-son type of relationship that anchors the otherwise over-the-top nature of the film.

 

Really, the entire film rests almost entirely on Jason Bateman's shoulders and he delivers.  He's both so likeable and unlikeable in the role that it's impossible to turn away from his performance.  Chand delivers a great performance as the young Chopra, providing an anchor to the nonsense that goes on in the film.  It's great fun watching these two spar with each other over the course of the film, especially in the ridiculous finale that had me laughing out loud, something that I haven't done while watching a movie in a very long time.

 

4/5

 

 

 

The November Man (2014)

Pierce Brosnan's return to the spy genre is a triumph, and evidence that perhaps maybe he was held back by the Bond filmmakers rather than the other way around.  For the second time now (the first being The Tailor of Panama) Brosnan proves that, given the right material, he could have made for a very good, ruthless Bond, had he been given the chance.

 

Brosnan's Bond proxy this time around is Peter Devereaux, a CIA agent who is brought back into the fold for a mission to extract an informant out of Russia.  The mission goes sideways and Devreaux is set up and the informant is killed.  From there, things get personal, as one of Devereaux's former pupils, David Mason (Luke Bracey) is assigned to track him down.  Things get even more complicated from there, but I won't go into any further plot details so that I don't ruin any of the story.

 

Suffice to say, though, that Brosnan gets some good moments in The November Man that he could have only dreamed of as Bond.  Devreaux is a ruthless character here, every bit the hard-edged spy that Daniel Craig's Bond is, albeit without the macho physical presence that Craig brings due to his relative youth compared to Brosnan.  Brosnan really gets some dark moments mixed in with the heroism on display here, including a scene in which he forces, as we saw his own Bond villains do to him some years ago, choose between the girl and the mission.  That was a great scene in which we get to see Brosnan mix things up from his typical spy persona.

 

Bond veteran Olga Kurylenko is also on hand, playing a character who gets caught up in the whole scheme but ultimately has a few secrets of her own.

 

Overall, The November Man is a pretty good entry in the spy thriller genre.  There's a few decent moments of action, but thankfully no overly long set pieces like we're used to seeing in the more recent Bond films.  This is a more low-key spy film and it is the better for it, and Brosnan is excellent in his long awaited return to the genre.

 

4/5


Edited by tdalton, 06 January 2015 - 06:36 AM.


#8 tdalton

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Posted 06 January 2015 - 05:20 PM

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

The fifth entry in the popular Paranormal Activity franchise finds the action finally taking place with a completely different set of characters.  The Marked Ones, while billed as a spinoff of the main storyline of the franchise, isn't really a spinoff at all, incorporating plot points from Paranormal Activity and, to a much lesser degree (more of an Easter Egg really) Paranormal Activity 3.  Truly, The Marked Ones should have simply been titled Paranormal Activity 5, but perhaps those that are running the franchise are getting ahead of the game and ditching the numerical titles before it hits the larger numbers to try to avoid audience fatigue.

 

The Marked Ones finds franchise newcomers Jesse, Hector, and Marisol dealing with strange occurrences in their apartment complex in California.  It starts slow, with not much happening, and then, in typical Paranormal Activity fashion, bad things begin to happen to our protagonists, although Jesse takes the brunt of the demon's abuse this time around.

 

The Marked Ones was almost universally panned by critics and, while I'm not suggesting that it's a modern horror classic (far from it, in fact) it offers enough change from the first four films in the franchise to feel it was worth the time to sit down and spend an hour and twenty minutes with it.  I would be interested in seeing the filmmakers behind the franchise take it in a completely different direction, ditching the found-footage aspect of the films and making a more traditional film to follow Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension which is set for release this March.  The found-footage aspect of The Marked Ones really does feel forced at times, where there are many moments where you feel like telling the characters to put the camera down and run, but, as usual, this is an inherent problem with the genre that is not easily solved.  Still, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a worthwhile viewing if you've followed the films to this point, but it's certainly not going to be mistaken for any kind of modern horror classic.

 

2.5/5



#9 DaveBond21

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 02:45 AM

What Lies Beneath (2000) - horror film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford.

 

Good, solid movie that always used to make me jump. I know it too well now but my wife got 2 big shocks.



#10 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 04:41 AM

Life Stinks (1991) - One of the few Mel Brooks films that isn't a parody. A man makes a bet that he can live as a homeless person for a month in order to win some property from a rival businessman. It would be just another run-of-the-mill 90's comedy if not for the efforts of Brooks himself and the lovely Lesley Ann Warren. Not much to write home about, but I'm a certified Brooks fanatic and it's always good to see some of his under-appreciated work. Solid film.



#11 DaveBond21

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 12:09 AM

Dr NO (1962)

 

As part of my Bond marathon, I re-watched the very first 007 movie.

 

The scenes I love:-

 

- Our introduction to Bond at the casino and the early exchanges with Sylvia Trench

 

- Bond reluctantly receiving his Walther

 

- Arrival in Jamaica. Even though today's audience are a lot more used to overseas travel, it still looks beautiful and exotic even though I have been to the Caribbean myself

 

- Bond and the tarantula

 

- Disposing of Miss Taro and waiting for Dent

 

- Meeting Dr No



#12 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 08:51 AM

Movie marathon in the last days.

 

THE NOVEMBER MAN - terrific, really dirty and gritty spy thriller that is extremely fast-paced and features a fantastic Brosnan performance.  Roger Donaldson´s direction is marvelous.  Wouldn´t mind him doing a Bond film.  This is one of the most underrated films of last year.

 

47 RONIN - not bad at all, visually beautiful, dramatically sound, but a bit overlong and too sombre for its mix of epic samurai film and fantasy.  More fun, please!

 

THE EXPENDABLES 3 - I loved it.  For me, it´s the best of the three because it does not try to impress with "hey, we´re so brutal, with blood and guts flying, hahaha" but still offers action in high gear.  Also, it´s got the best acting in the series (Banderas and Gibson) and has the best combination of seriousness and comedy.  Definitely recommended.

 

THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY - great crime thriller, a master class in story telling, with Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac delivering ace performances.

 

UNDER THE SKIN - most overrated film of last year, Scarlett Johannsen is great, I give you that, but the whole idea was so much better and so much more entertainingly done in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.  This film, however, is hard to digest or even to stand because it feels like a debut by an experimental filmmaker who has no interest in pacing or plot development.  Yet, it is directed by the wonderful Jonathan Glazer who did SEXY BEAST and the fantastic BIRTH.  Please, Sir, go back to narrative filmmaking. 


Edited by SecretAgentFan, 09 January 2015 - 08:56 AM.


#13 thecasinoroyale

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 10:27 AM

Don't know why I fell out of sync posting here, so a few to start the New Year with:

 

'Into The Storm' (2014)

 

Showcasing well produced special effects, this is the only minimal pleasure you may get from this film - a mere 84mins long, and staged in 3 layers: 1st mini tornado, 2nd dangerous tornado, 3rd epic tornado. Everything else in between is just pointless filler and overly-dramatic tosh.

 

With a very unforgettable cast of characters, all come from the cliché disaster film book, this has no depth apart from a handful of people trying to survive a wild storm and document it at the same time. Unlike 'Twister', this has no humane story, no character development and nothing very memorable. Even the storm itself spends half the time in "shaky cam" footage where you don't see much except fuzzy, blowy effects across the screen. When a tornado made from fire and air proves to be the highlight in this "disaster porn" film which builds a story around SFX, you know this isn't anything to be shouting from the rooftops.

 

If 2015 is destined to be as bad as my first film choice for the year, then I really AM heading into the storm and deserved to be sucked up in it and spat out like hardly anyone in this film who do a bloody good job of surviving against impossible odds.

 

 

'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' (2011)

 

With an iconic series that fizzled out over time and treated to a less-than-impressive reboot in 2001, this was another telling of the story where apes rise against humanity; a daring and brave sci-fi story told in an era of superhero and big-budget drama movies. With a tense story, some exceptional special effects and a great cast, this serves as the reboot the series needed and also the fresh interpretation for a new franchise. Full of surprising levels of humanity and emotion from leading stars James Franco and Andy Serkis, the amount of detail put into the creation of digitally rendered Caesar is breath-taking, and it's hard to tell at times where the digital primates begin and the real ones end.

 

With a good amount of time spent telling the story of how man and primate are established in modern society, there is lots of tender moments to be had but also growing tension as Caesar's intelligence develops and he becomes more and more independent; figuring out how to open locks and eventually talk is done very well and is far more believable than others could have handled it, creating a sense of nightmarish fantasy that could very well be something that the future of evolution presents us with.

 

And that is the core of why this films works so well - believability. Franco, Lithgow and Pinto deserve their praise for working alongside actors in mo-cap suits and acting to figures not present, as they do it so convincingly and heart-felt. However it's Andy Serkis, a man whom I was unconvinced of at first for his role as Gollum in 'The Lord Of The Rings', now I am totally in awe of his ability to create and personify a character, be it primate, human or goblin. From the movement of Caesar to his sounds and facial expressions ranging from angry, to sad, to happy and curious, Serkis helps Caeser become more than just a digital creation - he becomes a real character you journey with and feel for more than most in cinema history.

 

This leads steadily to a well executed finale, not full of CGI devastation seen so much in summer blockbusters, but one of heart and some real eerie scenes as humanity and primates clash, and where brains dominate over brawn. It's tightly shot, well directed and well acted with the effects dominating things to the point where it seems too real to be true. It's probably the second best Golden Gate finale behind 'A View To A Kill' but miles ahead of 'X-Men: The Last Stand'.

 

It's the blockbuster with brains, but also good sci-fi fun at heart and never forgetting the idea it is toying with to leave you feeling depressed and bored. There are thrills, humour and great action sequences unlike anything you've seen in modern films. And more than ever in today's society, the underlying threat of the Gen-Sys drug proving deadly to humans is something that the Ebola virus had every potential of becoming in different circumstances.

 

A stunning film, and very brave in it's presentation but very deserving of the positive reception for laying strong foundations to build on even more for the future.

 

 

'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' (2014)

 

Building on the strong foundations laid by the rebooted ‘Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’ 3 years previously, this manages to capture what made the first surprisingly entertaining and successful; ground-breaking yet subtle special effects, with a strong emotional core and a sense of believability. Only this time it cranks up the action quota, throwing us headlong into the growing battle we were promised years ago.

 

While Jason Clarke and co may not have the immediate likeability of James Franco and Frieda Pinto (absent this time around), the new cast members are telling a different story this time however; weary survivors from a global pandemic which pretty much wipes the slate clean for us to start again with new stories and characters, but with the continued thread of the developing primates dominating over the human race. It’s another fantastical yet somehow eerie notion that maybe one day, this is how evolution will change the order of dominance. It’s actually Gary Oldman who does little here, appearing now and then to shout in a loud-speaker and not really doing much, which is a shame, but he does a fair job with the time he has, but don’t count on him exactly being a “leading man”.

 

Andy Serkis, once more stealing the show as the older and wiser Caesar, heads equally talented artists in mo-cap for our primate cast, many from the first film but also new additions and expansions to the family. The stories between human and ape are equally powerful, tender and meaningful and thanks to the SFX, the detail on Caesar and co is stunning, and at times I found myself genuinely unsure what creates on screen were real and which were digitally enhanced, more so than the first. While this is a SFX heavy film, it is used to only create and enhance a world dominated by primates, never taking over the practical and humane side of things so it comes across more believable and interesting to see.

 

The story took a little longer for me to get into, adjusting to a drastically new environment and cast, but grounded by the continuing struggle between man and primate. While the search for power in primate territory is a little bloated, it does the job of serving as the reason to bring both sides together and when that happens the drama and tension escalates very smoothly – cracks appear in both sides and you find yourself equally torn between the good and bad in both parties, and see the inevitable happening before your eyes but with plenty of twists and a few good-hearted moments of humour laced in between. The scene with Koba “disarming” the armed humans is wonderfully comical but shocking at the same time – kudos to the acting ability of our stars and the brilliant SFX work.

 

If thinking that apes on horseback wielding machine guns are too daft, don’t fear – even this is done in a way that the primates look and handle themselves tentatively. They’re not turned into Monkey Stallone and Ape Schwarzenegger the moment a rifle is in their paws, if anything they become more dangerous and unpredictable like the weapons themselves; handling and shooting in a sporadic and amateur way, and still favouring hand-to-hand primitive combat, makes this fantastical but believable as they engage in a brutal confrontation with the humans, leading to an explosive and thrilling final hour which again sows the seeds for a hopeful sequel.

 

With a rousing score, great direction that explores the emotion and love/hate relationships between both man and primate alike (more emotional than the first by far), this is a fitting sequel which is equally exciting and thrilling for a very brave re-boot that delivers the blockbuster with brains once more and teases the prospect of another chapter in the future.

 

 

'The Equalizer' (2014)

 

Easily comparable in some ways to Liam Neeson’s ‘Taken’, Denzel Washington, the critically acclaimed and hugely successful film star seen in many emotive dramas and tense thrillers, turns action hero and becomes a mild-mannered everyday man with a secret government past and array of skills that are used in a sweeping wave of violence to taken down international criminals to protect those he cares for, all the while maintaining his aura of a calm, cool but cold-blooded and efficient killer.

 

If you took away the credible directing from action-thriller veteran Antoine Fuqua and the likeable and effortlessly interesting lead star of Denzel Washington, this would be a very generic and clichéd action/thriller. That said, it’s still enjoyable but does suffer a strange lag half-way through. It builds nicely, forming the relationships we expect to follow to resolution and gives us great screen time with Washington’s McCall who, despite much explanation of backstory, comes over as another Washington-character; likeable and charming with a spark of danger.

 

However it builds up only to suddenly slow right down and drag its heels in telling a very basic story, deciding to bloat it out and try to make it a film about morals, decisions, self-belief and redemption when it doesn’t really need to. This isn’t a game changer, so don’t try to make it out to be something deep and meaningful – just go with the template laid for Washington to dispatch the stereotypical Russian criminals (beards, tats, bald-heads and gruff voices) in a flurry of stylishly violent ways. Thank god this was an R / 18 rated film to allow us to have some fun with the violence, rather than a watered down PG-13 / 12A family friendly offering….’Tak3n’, I’m looking at you.

 

The first half is great fun, but the second manages to de-rail itself and become a little confusing in narrative but also the depiction of what McColl is – rather than a former government operative who still bleeds but has a tactical mind, he ends up in copious amounts of slow motion shots walking away from explosions (literally surviving a blast larger than the hospital destruction in ‘The Dark Knight’ or the lodge in ‘Skyfall’) all without looking back and walking through the smoke and debris without a scratch on him. As my man Ace noted previously, he could be compared to a modern interpretation of Frank ‘The Punisher’ Castle or, better yet, the first African-American Terminator.

 

Picking up the pace for the ending, set in your local hardware store, it becomes a countdown for Washington to pick off the Russians one by one in a number of imaginative, gruesome ways – think ‘Final Destination’ meets ‘Commando’, and you have it. No real sense of danger or threat, just brainless, bloody fun with yet more effortless cool from Washington and plenty of slow-motion walking through rain – er, I mean sprinklers.

 

(Yes, the poster ISN’T rain and a handgun; it’s a sprinkler system and nail-gun.)

 

With a wonderfully irritatingly nasty bastard of a villain in Marton Csokas, who I kept thinking is the European looker of Kevin Spacey, we have some very basic stereotypical Russian bad-guys who all looks the part but prove to be nothing but useless against our hero and just there for take-downs. Chloë Grace Moretz is robbed of more screen time after she fuels McCall’s conscious, which is a shame because she is a wonderful actress and really brought humanity to the story opposite Washington, and it’s a shame they didn’t continue this relationship before she vanishes less than 30mins into the film pretty much.

 

In all, it is enjoyable fluff and refreshing to see a gritty and adult action film that doesn’t hold back with the violence (nothing gratuitous, mind), but does lose pace as it progresses. However, with solid directing and a great leading star, they make it that little bit more easier to watch.

 

 

'The Imitation Game' (2014)

 

With little knowledge of the man himself, Alan Turing, the story of the code-breakers working at Bletchley Park in England during World War II is one that many are aware of. Cracking the Enigma code formulated by the German forces was one that helped the Allies turn the tide of the war and formulate their attacks and strategy with intercepted information received via the airwaves.

 

However this film helps us discover more about Turing, the man behind the machine that cracked the code, along with his team who worked against the odds as the war raged on overseas. Firstly this film belongs to Benedict Cumberbatch who makes it something special with his performance as the isolated, fragile but fascinating Turing; a young mathematical genius who has many hidden demons he wrestles with. One of, if not currently, his best roles, Cumberbatch has that electricity on-screen that his physical, emotional and vocal portrayal of Turing captures you from the start. A wonderfully mysterious man, much like the code he is breaking, you never really know if you’re getting under his skin until the finale when his defences and fears come crashing down, showing us how dedicated and clever he was working at Bletchley.

 

Co-stars Kiera Knightly, in another period-piece role she excels at, Rory Kinnear as a conflicted policeman charged with investigating Turing and Matthew Goode as a fellow code-breaker all help Cumberbatch play Turing in different lights. He is seen as a humorous, tormented but brilliant man. Mark Strong and Charles Dance are also brilliant as the men commanding British Intelligence and the GCCS, their established talent grounding the film and giving us the best of British.

 

Celebrating the achievements made by ordinary men during World War II, this also shows the failings of society in the fact Turing’s homosexuality was used against him after all his work for his country. Staggered throughout the film’s narrative, we start and end with Turing post-war in the hands of police and learn more about the man to decide our own opinion of if he is a “criminal” or not. It’s a powerful finale and very tragic; I won’t spoil it for those not aware of the story, but it is sobering and very well acted by Cumberbatch and Knightly.

 

I actually would have liked to see more time spent with Turing and his code-breakers in their development of the bombe machine and more relationships being built. Clocking it at just under 2 hours, this doesn’t throw lots of action in your face, it is rather a drama with the underlying threat of each minute that goes by, the war advances closer and more innocent people die as a result. It’s hard to watch these men in their casual clothes, laughing, squabbling and working in offices when it is cut between footage of the war overseas; you remember how much pressure they were under and how much the men not armed with a gun were seen as doing little for their country in the eyes of others.

 

It’s very authentic in detail, with brilliant and faithful set design, costume and real-life locations used to tell the true story that everyone should be aware of historically for the importance of how the Allies won the war. Facts may be stretched or changed for dramatic purpose, but I'm not hot enough on the story itself to know, and nothing seemed out of place or unbelievable. At the end of the day, this is at core media for entertainment, so the audience needs to have enough to work with to maintain that slight sense of escapism, which I fully accept, but as it's done so well it's never clear what elements may or may not be accurate.

 

The story is fascinating, exciting, tender and warm in places, but powerful and tragic in others. If Cumberbatch and the crew don’t gain the grace of award wins or nominations, then there is a fault in the system, because this isn’t a film created on overly-dramatic fiction to tug at your heart-strings; it’s based on raw truth and it’s hard to remember that when you watch it because it’s made so well for audiences to hook on to.

 

 

'Gravity' (2013)

 

A film that delivers breath-taking cinematography and mesmerizing visual effects, but delivers a very basic story, I was won over more by the spirit of humanity, of survival and of nature itself more than anything. At just over 80mins, it’s s a perfect running time that snowballs one basic idea to a fitting resolution and not dragging on too long as it could have done at the expense of “showing off” what modern film-making can do.

 

With an opening shot that lasts for 13 minutes, and many more shots throughout that are single takes, this is a film that is all about maintaining a thrilling, realistic feel as much as possible. To be authentic in delivery and execution to make the audience feel like they are taking the journey in space also. Little of the film is actually horizontal and on the level; many sequences have you watching action upside down, on its side or spinning in a brave move that triggers as much motion sickness as it does alienation and isolation in the depths of space.

 

A huge cast of 2, fronted by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, are perfectly grounded in their roles. Bullock plays the fearful, anxious and desperate Dr Stone who has a text-book role as a woman trying to prove something to herself and to never give up in the face of tragedy. Clooney has that charming, professional and experienced persona that Lt. Kowalski needs to take control of a situation, maintain calm on all levels for Stone (and us) when facing delirious panic, and generally being a likeable guy. With little but well-scripted screen time together, they are a great pair and both really are convincing in their roles as NASA astronauts, whether they are working on a space station, navigating a shuttle control panel or talking space-lingo.

 

Supporting vocal roles from Ed Harris and Orto Ignatiussen are just as important as the physical stars in which they represent their humanity back on Earth and a contact with mankind that, be it broken English or staggered through static, is more valuable than anything when you are alone and afraid with nothing and no-one to help you. From claustrophobic POV shots in space helmets and narrow tracking shots through contained space stations, we experience the intensity of working in space as much as we may ever do without going up there.

 

With lots of disorientating action that favours a thrilling and dangerous soundtrack by Steven Price at the expense of noisy explosions and destruction (maintain reality with no sound being carried in space), this is technically brilliant and the effects are stunning. With Earth the 3rd major star in this film always present, you are lost alongside Clooney and Bullock as they stare down at our mighty planet and see it in all its glory. I could have spent 80mins with them simply talking through muted headsets as they look down at the planet; the visuals are so perfect and relaxing, it was a strange emotion to feel because this makes you appreciate our planet and our humanity more than ever. Or so I found.

 

Especially towards the finale, which I won’t spoil, we are treated to some beautiful shots from Earth itself looking up at danger and disaster taking place up above, and those few seconds were stunning, coupled with the gentle diegetic sound of nature and a palate of natural colours after spending so much time in the cold, lifeless and bleak depths of space. And the closing seconds were fantastic after such a rollercoaster ride.

 

Over-hyped? I don't think so, not for the achievement it makes for film-making. So the story may have been done before, but in this setting and with such a brave production to make it exciting and authentic You easily forget the simplicity of it and become engrossed in the beauty and danger staged before you. I mean, set in space in a very real situation, don't expect zooming spaceships, fierce battles or exploding stars - this is science fact, not fiction.

 

I’m saddened I never saw it on the big screen because there are some truly beautiful shots here that, as I say, made me appreciate our planet and achievements as a species more than ever.



#14 tdalton

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 05:25 PM

Stephen King's A Good Marriage (2014)

SPOILERS

Stephen King's A Good Marriage, a film adapted from King's novella "A Good Marriage" from the Full Dark, No Stars collection released a couple of years ago, stars Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia in the lead roles of Darcy and Bob Anderson.  The Andersons seemingly have a "good marriage".  They are happy, Bob is a successful accountant and an avid coin collector, a hobby with which Darcy helps him.

 

It's when Bob goes away on business following a wedding anniversary party thrown for them by their children that Darcy discovers the dark secret Bob has been hiding in the garage all of those years.  The news in the film has been dominated by the return of the "Beadie" killer, who is basically a fictionalized version of the BTK killer, who sends his victim's photo IDs to the police along with a taunting letter.  In the garage, Darcy finds the driver's license of the most recent purported Beadie victim and realizes what that means.

 

From there, it's a tense attempt at leading a normal life for Darcy and Bob.  Bob knows that Darcy has discovered his secret, which leads to some wonderfully sinister, but in a passive-agressive manner, acting from LaPaglia, who is fantastically understated as Bob.  The film rests on Joan Allen's shoulders, however, and she is fantastic as well.  It's hard to truly recreate many of King's characters from the page to the screen, and while there are some things left out of Stephen King's A Good Marriage, Allen does a fine job, better than most, of bringing King's creation to life.  

 

Of all the Stephen King adaptations, Stephen King's A Good Marriage is one of the better ones.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that King wrote the screenplay for the film.  While a lot of the internal struggles that Darcy feels don't necessarily come through on the screen, a common issue in King adaptations, the film really is a great adaptation of one of King's best short stories/novellas.  It was also interesting, at least to me, the way the film looked, because the house, the neighborhood, and pretty much everything else in the film looked exactly how I imagined in from the novella.  

 

In short, Stephen King's A Good Marriage is a very good film, despite what the critics would have you believe.  As far as King adaptations go, it's one of the best ones, especially of the recent attempts.  

 

3.5/5

 

 

 

 

UNDER THE SKIN - most overrated film of last year, Scarlett Johannsen is great, I give you that, but the whole idea was so much better and so much more entertainingly done in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.  This film, however, is hard to digest or even to stand because it feels like a debut by an experimental filmmaker who has no interest in pacing or plot development.  Yet, it is directed by the wonderful Jonathan Glazer who did SEXY BEAST and the fantastic BIRTH.  Please, Sir, go back to narrative filmmaking. 

 

Couldn't agree more.



#15 dtuba

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 02:32 PM

The Taking Of Pelham 123 (1974)

 

The original with Robert Shaw as the head bad guy and Walter Matthau as action hero. What's not to love?


Edited by dtuba, 10 January 2015 - 02:32 PM.


#16 Agent 76

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 04:07 PM

Chaplin (1992)

 

 

A splendidly directed motion picture by Sir Richard Attenborough, with good performances, the best of course being Robert Downey Jr's. It was the movie that put him on the map, and deservedly so.

It was interesting to see the beginning of Chaplin's legendary personna and his friendship with Douglas Fairbanks.

 

7/10



#17 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 05:48 PM

Stephen King's A Good Marriage (2014)

SPOILERS

Stephen King's A Good Marriage, a film adapted from King's novella "A Good Marriage" from the Full Dark, No Stars collection released a couple of years ago, stars Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia in the lead roles of Darcy and Bob Anderson.  The Andersons seemingly have a "good marriage".  They are happy, Bob is a successful accountant and an avid coin collector, a hobby with which Darcy helps him.

 

It's when Bob goes away on business following a wedding anniversary party thrown for them by their children that Darcy discovers the dark secret Bob has been hiding in the garage all of those years.  The news in the film has been dominated by the return of the "Beadie" killer, who is basically a fictionalized version of the BTK killer, who sends his victim's photo IDs to the police along with a taunting letter.  In the garage, Darcy finds the driver's license of the most recent purported Beadie victim and realizes what that means.

 

From there, it's a tense attempt at leading a normal life for Darcy and Bob.  Bob knows that Darcy has discovered his secret, which leads to some wonderfully sinister, but in a passive-agressive manner, acting from LaPaglia, who is fantastically understated as Bob.  The film rests on Joan Allen's shoulders, however, and she is fantastic as well.  It's hard to truly recreate many of King's characters from the page to the screen, and while there are some things left out of Stephen King's A Good Marriage, Allen does a fine job, better than most, of bringing King's creation to life.  

 

Of all the Stephen King adaptations, Stephen King's A Good Marriage is one of the better ones.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that King wrote the screenplay for the film.  While a lot of the internal struggles that Darcy feels don't necessarily come through on the screen, a common issue in King adaptations, the film really is a great adaptation of one of King's best short stories/novellas.  It was also interesting, at least to me, the way the film looked, because the house, the neighborhood, and pretty much everything else in the film looked exactly how I imagined in from the novella.  

 

In short, Stephen King's A Good Marriage is a very good film, despite what the critics would have you believe.  As far as King adaptations go, it's one of the best ones, especially of the recent attempts.  

 

3.5/5

 

 

 

 

UNDER THE SKIN - most overrated film of last year, Scarlett Johannsen is great, I give you that, but the whole idea was so much better and so much more entertainingly done in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.  This film, however, is hard to digest or even to stand because it feels like a debut by an experimental filmmaker who has no interest in pacing or plot development.  Yet, it is directed by the wonderful Jonathan Glazer who did SEXY BEAST and the fantastic BIRTH.  Please, Sir, go back to narrative filmmaking. 

 

Couldn't agree more.

 

And I really wanted to like it...  

 

Thanks for the review for "A good marriage"!  Will check it out, too.

 

Did you see "Big Driver", the other recent King adaptation?  Haven´t had the chance yet myself.



#18 x007AceOfSpades

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 01:11 AM

Under The Skin feels like an experimental film? That might be the funniest thing I've read today.

 

 

No offense.



#19 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 08:48 AM

None taken.  But you will agree that many shots in UTS could be taken out of an student film?  For example: the kitchen sink/eye view at the beginning?



#20 Safari Suit

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 11:51 AM

Under the Skin was my favourite film of 2014, but I imagine it would suffer a lot outside of the cinema environment. I watched All is Lost recently, and while it was OK, I couldn't help but think it would have been much more involving if I'd seen it in the cinema, in the accompanying circumstances, and it occurred to me that Under the Skin would probably suffer much the same on DVD/blu-ray. Plenty of people who saw it in the cinema hated it too though, I acknowledge that.

 

It actually reminded me of Liquid Sky a lot more than The Man Who Fell to Earth, though they take contrasting approaches (trendy and trashy kitsch vs. graceful artistry that aspires to timelessness).



#21 tdalton

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 02:46 PM

Did you see "Big Driver", the other recent King adaptation?  Haven´t had the chance yet myself.


I haven't seen Big Driver yet.  I've been hesitant to since it's a Lifetime channel movie, and I have yet to see one of those that wasn't terrible.  I'll probably check it out at some point, but as of right now I think I've only seen it available for rent on various on demand outlets, so I'll probably wait until I can see it on Netflix.
 
 

Under the Skin was my favourite film of 2014, but I imagine it would suffer a lot outside of the cinema environment. I watched All is Lost recently, and while it was OK, I couldn't help but think it would have been much more involving if I'd seen it in the cinema, in the accompanying circumstances, and it occurred to me that Under the Skin would probably suffer much the same on DVD/blu-ray. Plenty of people who saw it in the cinema hated it too though, I acknowledge that.
 
It actually reminded me of Liquid Sky a lot more than The Man Who Fell to Earth, though they take contrasting approaches (trendy and trashy kitsch vs. graceful artistry that aspires to timelessness).

 

Just speaking for myself, but I don't see Under the Skin being any better on the big screen.  I just don't find it to be a particularly good movie, even though I respect some of its ambitions.
 



#22 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 02:51 PM

I think UNDER MY SKIN could have made a terrific short segment in THE TWILIGHT ZONE.  But the whole film was just too long for its ideas.



#23 x007AceOfSpades

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 03:22 PM

None taken.  But you will agree that many shots in UTS could be taken out of an student film?  For example: the kitchen sink/eye view at the beginning?

Nope, not at all. I think it's the finest science fiction film in recent years. Well executed in every aspect. I don't think anything from it could be taken from a student film.



#24 DaveBond21

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 10:42 PM

From Russia with Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964)

 

As part of my Bond marathon I watched these 2 classics. I have written alot about FRWL in my own thread about it so I will concentrate on Goldfinger.

 

I watched Goldfinger again and really enjoyed it. The film has come in for some criticism recently, mainly because it is rated so highly by some, and I was one of those who felt it was slightly over-rated, and I also criticised the way that Bond seemed to not do much in this adventure.

 

However I saw it in a different light on Saturday. It really is a great movie and Bond is of course essential to the plot in stopping Goldfinger's plan to set off a nuclear device on Fort Knox. This time around I enjoyed the entire movie, as in the past, I felt it lost its way once 007 meets Pussy Galore on the plane. I can see why it was so popular at the time - it must have looked fantastic on the big screen 50 years ago.

 

It also set up the testy relationship between Bond and Q and brought us our first really larger than life villain plus a henchman with something unique about him. On that note, I feel that the casting of Dave Bautista as Hinx in SPECTRE, was done with the idea that Oddjob could be emulated. I do believe Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig think that Goldfinger is the benchmark for 007 and would be unaware of any criticism of the movie, especially on this website!

 

All in all, I find it an excellent entry and the first 3 Bonds are hard to beat across the board.



#25 tdalton

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 06:15 AM

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Matt Reeve's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of the best films of 2014, and a massive, massive improvement over the awful Rise of the Planet of the Apes that kick-started this new Planet of the Apes franchise. 

 

The film finds the human survivors and the apes trying to find common ground and coexist together, despite factions on both sides not wanting to go along with that ideal.  Caesar (Andy Serkis) wants to trust Malcolm (Jason Clarke) as the humans and apes begin to interact for the first time in a decade, but a strong distrust among the two camps makes it difficult for them to do so.  It's this dynamic between Caesar and Malcolm that is at the heart of the film, and it's quite simply spectacular to watch.  It really is hard to believe that this is a part of the same franchise as Rise of the Planet of the Apes because the difference in quality between the two films is night and day.

 

Andy Serkis turns in what could only be called a perfect performance as Caesar.  While they probably won't, the Academy should recognize Serkis with a nomination for Best Actor for his work here.  It's superb.  Jason Clarke is terrific in his role as well, and he and Serkis have a good chemistry together.  Kerri Russell and Gary Oldman round out the cast and they tend to play more to certain archetypes, although they do play them well.

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a terrific film that should be the template for summer blockbusters moving forward, as it combines everything you could want out of a film: solid acting, a great story, and special effects, rather than just focusing solely on the effects.

 

5/5

 

 

Neighbors (2014)

Awful.  Not the worst film of 2014, though.  If forced, I'd take it over A Million Ways to Die in the West or Godzilla, but that's not saying a whole lot.

0.5/5



#26 x007AceOfSpades

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 03:23 PM

Watched the work of another director, this time -- Paul Thomas Anderson.

 

Hard Eight - 1996 - 4/5 - starring Phillip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly

"This is very f***** up situation."

 

Ahhh, it feels great to once again start looking into another director's work, this time being Paul Thomas Anderson. I've pretty much seen every one of his films, save for the short films, but Hard Eight, his first directorial outing was one I haven't seen. I didn't even hear about it until around a year or so ago. Sat down and watched this and I was actually very surprised at how this turned out. Hard Eight is a rather small, short, and basic film in comparison with PTA's follow up film Boogie Nights, yet well done.

 

The film opens up with an older man, Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) offering a man, John (John C. Reilly) sitting outside a diner a cup of coffee and a cigarette. John agrees and the two begin to talk, with John confessing that he's got a gambling problem and that he needs $6,000 for his mother's funeral. Reluctantly, John joins Sydney in Las Vegas where Sydney teaches him to properly gamble, as well as essentially beating the casino and getting a large payout. Two years pass and John is now his protege and has a new friend who does security work at a casino, Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson) as well as being attracted to Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow), a waitress at a casino lounge.

 

The film is rather low-key, as is the script, following basic structure, narrative, etc. It's definitely not as bold, and standout-ish as Boogie Nights or even Magnolia, but that doesn't mean this is a bad film. Like Anderson's later films, his stories often focus on characters present and their side as well as conflicts and such. That's definitely present here, as there certainly is morally ambiguous nature to Sydney. We know he's a very intelligent man, who's articulate with his words and thinks about his actions that follow and we know he is a gambler, who knows how to exploits loops or holes in casinos. There's still this shroud of the mystique to him that we are drawn to. There's conflicts present, which don't occur until Clementine and Jimmy show up, then things start going in the opposite direction. Sydney and John are conflicted with Clementine and her actions, and Jimmy seems to know something about Sydney that everyone else may not know.

 

When it comes to the acting, Phillip Baker Hall is definitely a huge reason to check this out. I always see him in a good roles, supporting roles, but never entirely a lead role. He has a unique look to him, and he really brings the character of Sydney to the screen perfectly. This truly is a character that he, and only he could play. Reilly is primarily known for comedic films, but all of his work with Anderson is by his best, especially in Hard Eight. It's funny seeing somebody who is great at comedy that you wouldn't expect to be just utterly outstanding in a dramatic turn. Gwyneth Paltrow is someone I don't normally hold my breath for, so it's a gamble with her, but I thought she was really good here. Same thing goes with Samuel L. Jackson, he's definitely got personality and presence, but I feel he wasn't as great as Hall and Reilly. Oh and then there's Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who has just five minutes, and actually upstages Hall in their scene. Really shows you how gifted of an actor he was.

 

With Hard Eight, we see the shots and techniques that would pretty much become standard, or style that would become a P.T. Anderson picture. It's got beautiful, yet low-key cinematography, especially showing us some of Anderson's feats like moving shots, which are all well done here. Editing, lighting, everything is well done here and for being his first film (outside of shorts), Anderson doesn't falter at all. Hard Eight has a great noir vibe to it, which enhances the overall structure of the film -- for me at least. It's very impressive on the technical aspect of film, great work all around.

 

Usually in Anderson's films, I'm drawn to his characters and his writing behind them. Whether it's Dirk Diggler or Freddie Quell, there's something interesting to them. Even if it's a character that isn't say entirely fleshed, the man knows how to develop a character. With Hard Eight virtually every character isn't all that interesting, or rather likable. It's funny writing that, considering his follow up film would be a vast improvement on this aspect. Another aspect is how the film does go into the territory of predictability. It doesn't make it slow, or dull, but by the middle of the second act, you can sort of see where the direction is headed next.

 

For his first film, I was impressed greatly with how Paul Thomas Anderson did on Hard Eight. Sure it's not a masterpiece some of his other works, or has aesthetically pleasing, but there's no denying that Hard Eight is still a very well made film. I would say that so far it's his weakest film, but that's not a bad thing for such a great director like PTA. It's still terrific and worth a watch.

 

"I will f*** you up if you f*** with me, okay? I know three kinds of karate: Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, and regular karate."

 

Boogie Nights - 1997 - 5/5 - starring Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds

"I got a feeling that behind those jeans is something wonderful waiting to get out."

 

Hard Eight, although very basic was a very promising look at the future for Paul Thomas Anderson's career. His sophomore follow up, Boogie Nights literally exceeds all expectations about this man and his filmmaking style and literally blows Hard Eight out of the water. While it's a film using the pornography boom as a backdrop, it's ultimately dealing with the themes of greed, excess, and these people's eventual downfalls. Boogie Nights is dramatic, it's hilarious, it's thrilling, it's just all around a terrific film.

 

Opening up in the San Fernando Valley, California, it's 1997 and the films chronicles the lives of several people who work in the pornography industry during what is called "The Golden Age Of Porn". Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is a seventeen year old high school drop out who works at a night club owned by Maurice Rodriguez (Luis Guzman), who happens to have ties to famed porn director, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). When Eddie is runs away from home after being berated by his emotionally abusive mother, he turns to Jack and begins a career in pornography as well as being introduced to the industry and the lifestyle of the various people involved. As the film progresses, we see Eddie, now known by his stage name, Dirk Diggler rise to fame as the top male star, and his fall to grace after being introduced to cocaine. Boogie Nights as chronicles the lives of several other characters and their personal matters as well.

 

As evident in Hard Eight, Anderson has a knack for characters, and he really lets us know with this film. It's a character(s) driven film, and each character is properly fleshed out and developed throughout the films two and a half hour running time. Anderson doesn't slack on the writing and lets us in on every single individual. Each character has their beginning, middle and end. They have their one specific goal, and by the end of the film they either achieve that and move on in life, or they just resort to their wicked ways. Most of these characters are just simply bad people, and incredibly selfish. They don't care about others, they just want more money in their pocket, and more powder up their nose. For some, it's about truly making a living and trying to be legitimate, other than getting paid to F*** on camera.

 

It's a tale of excess, Anderson just uses the pornographic setting and atmosphere as a backdrop to tell this story. We see what it's like to have money, cars, good looking women all around you, drugs, everything. The lifestyle you've always wanted is right there, all at your advantage. Buck (Don Cheadle) just wants to have his own stereo store and Reed (John C. Reilly) wants to be an accomplished magician. Dirk has no drive, no motive, other than money and drugs. Sure he has an enlarged male anatomy, but that's all he has. That's what makes him this star that everyone sees. We see a young man literally blow through his money in favor of snorting cocaine. For Jack, he was once a renowned filmmaker in porn, now he's nothing. Dirk Diggler and his package is what he feels brings him back to spotlight. Without each other, Dirk and Diggler are nothing. In the end, they just truly can't survive without each other.

 

The acting is on full display here as everyone in this ensemble cast turns in more than perfect performances. Whether it's the main leads such as Wahlberg, Reynolds, or Julianne Moore, or supporting cast members in Reilly, Cheadle, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, or small roles in Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina, Robert Ridgely, and Phillip Baker Hall. Everyone in Boogie Nights is just outstanding. There are no weak links and everyone plays off of each other so brilliantly. The dialogue they are given just seems to flow and work like music with them. The acting alone from such an awesome cast in this should be worth watching. Hell, Alfred Molina's ten minutes (or so) as Rahad Jackson, the crazy drug dealer towards the end is worth watching alone.

 

The acting however is most importantly attributed to Anderson's incredible writing and directing. Second film under his belt and the man doesn't just have a general sense of what to do right, but rather how to do it, but just improve vastly on his previous film. That's Paul Thomas Anderson with his subsequent film he makes. The script is so rich with these characters and dialogue, it just simply oozes cool. He manages to tell this six to seven year spanning story masterfully. Getting every little detail in there as well properly establishing plots present. He directs everything with such flare and grandeur, but still maintaining a grounded level of realism.

 

The cinematography is beautiful in this film, just absolutely beautiful. From the opening long shot that establishes the era and introduces us to our characters, to the brilliant moving cam shots. I particularly liked how during the pornographic scenes the camera and film type switches, as I felt it added further to the realism and the overall feel of it. The editing is done great, as everything just flows from scene to scene, without feeling like it's getting repetitive. And then there's the soundtrack. There's very little musical score present, as it's largely music driven, featuring songs from the 70's and 80's. Opening with "Best Of My Love" it quickly thrusts you into the disco/night scene. Each subsequent song fits the scene perfectly and brings mood to it.

 

Boogie Nights was the first film from Paul Thomas Anderson that I saw and it was around five years or so ago. I've always enjoyed watching it, and it's one of the films that no matter how many times you see, it just never gets old. It's eighteen years old now (holy S***), but it honestly feels timeless to me. I can watch this everyday for a week, and never get sick of it. It's just that good.

 

"I like simple pleasures, like butter in my a**, lollipops in my mouth. That's just me. That's just something that I enjoy."

 

Magnolia - 1999 - 5/5 - starring A whole bunch of people

"What am I doing? I'm quietly judging you."

 

Hard Eight was the promising debut from Paul Thomas Anderson, and Boogie Nights took it several steps further and was in a league of it's own when compared to the former. So what about Anderson's third outing, Magnolia? It's incredibly tiresome. Tiresome in the right sense. It's a deeply, emotionally draining film. This only the second time watching it, and goddamn did it hit all of the right places. All of the emotional moments in the film felt like a gut punch. Magnolia doesn't just surpass Boogie Nights, it completely blows it out of the water. Yes, both films are completely different, but in terms of depth, this film is just absolutely incredible. It's just a further step forward for Anderson becoming the auteur he is today.

 

The film opens up with a narration provided by Ricky Jay about coincidences and suggests that forces greater than chance play important roles in life, thus, things happen. 1999, San Fernando Valley, California, Magnolia observes over the course of a single day the lives of several people, their problems and such and how they all intertwine with one another and how simply, things happen. It follows a dying man, Earl (Jason Robards) and his grief stricken wife, Linda (Julianne Moore) and how Earl just wants to see his estranged son, Frank (Tom Cruise) one last time. A police officer, Jim (John C. Reilly) who finds himself attracted to Claudia (Melora Walters) a woman who too is estranged from her father, Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), a host of a popular television game show. A former contestant on Gator's show, Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) who was taken advantage by his parents when he was kid and lost his money, and his now broke with numerous debts to pay off.

 

Rewatching this for the fist time in some time, Magnolia reminded me a lot of Robert Altman's film Short Cuts. Both films follow characters and how they end up interacting or intertwining by way of chance, though in the end, both films have very different themes. Altman's film is based on short stories by Raymond Carver, and Anderson's film is an original script, though Anderson's script has references to the book of exodus and other themes. Short Cuts deals with luck or chances, Magnolia doesn't. This film is more keen on the unexplained events, which are noted in the narration and the finale of the filmy, where it rains frogs. There's no complete explanation as to why, they just happen.

 

The film examines all of these people and stories and themes masterfully, though there's one thing that ties most of these characters together. Father issues. Of the ensemble, at least four or five of them have issues with their father, which overall results in their behavior. Frank's father was a liar and a cheat, so he claims to be this self-help guru for men, but all he does is lie. Claudia accuses her father of molesting her, which in turn causes her life to be a wreck and a drug addict. Donnie having his parents waste his money from when he was child and Stanley being practically forced on the show just so his father can get the game show money. As for the frogs, well I look at it as as a way of teaching us of what not to become. And that's these people. The only one who's really unfazed by all of this (the frogs) is Stanley, and he is the only one who confronts his problems in his story arc early on and makes his own decision. It's an integral part of the story.

 

The acting, well, I just can't specifically single out one or two actors in the film. It's just right, when considering everyone did a beautiful job with the film. Everyone has their respective plot line and their acting is brilliant. Just as brilliant as how they are introduced to us in the beginning of the film with Aimee Mann's "One" playing in the background as we get an insight into these people. These characters are all so perfectly constructed and developed thoroughly as the film progresses, all thanks to Anderson. I've already talked enough in my previous two reviews for his films about his love of characters, so there's no need to do it again, but this is probably his best in doing so. There was one scene that practically put me in tears and that's when Frank goes to see his dying father, Earl at the end of the film. It's acting from Cruise that was wonderful, as you can see emotions such as anger, pain, and even love in his face, but more specifically his eyes.

 

The cinematography is wonder in this film, though it's definitely less flashier and vibrant than Boogie Nights was. It is presented in a great, visually appealing way for being really average looking, but what I love most is the editing. In the middle of the film, we are shown several different story arcs going concurrently, and the editing ties everything together so well. Throughout the entire film, it does a spectacular job of being well weaved and transitioned. Not to mention, for three hours long, depending on your emotional status after it's over, it'll feel like it just breezed by you. I swear I thought this was around the two and half hour mark by the time it ended. The music, whether it's Jon Brion's score or the songs by Aimee Mann, all flow perfectly throughout the film and match the mood of each scene.

 

Magnolia is just a crazy, emotional roller coaster of a ride, but one that will you make you appreciate not just life in the end, but cinema. It's such a moving picture and one that sticks with you well after it's gone. It is literally perfect, just perfect in every aspect and further shows how Anderson can tackle just about anything that he puts his mind and work into. A true filmmaking genius.

 

"The book says, "We might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.' "

 

Punch-Drunk Love - 2002 - 4.5/5 - starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson

"I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine."

 

Paul Thomas Anderson further comes into his own with this near artistic, sublime romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love. It's different than his previous films, quite different and his shortest film to date at only eighty-seven minutes -- pre credits. Most people would look at those mid 2000 Romantic comedy films and say, that's how it is, but along comes Anderson who basically says F*** that, and crafts his own RomCom that blows them all out of the water. His style of filmmaking and his writing is perfect for crafting a film of this sub-genre.

 

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) is a single and lonely man who runs his company where he works alongside friend, Lance (Luis Guzman) where they market and sell themed toilet plungers. He is constantly ridiculed by his seven sisters and is love sick. He finds himself drawn yet shy, to the lovely Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), who happens to be a coworker of his sister Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub). Barry Egan is also the subject of extortion from a woman who gains all of his information after he does a phone sex meet On top of buying numerous boxes of Healthy Choice products' pudding as a means of amassing millions of frequent flyer miles due to the promotion with American Airlines, where Barry sees a loophole.

 

Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love is considerably tame by all accounts when compared to his previous two films. It definitely has much more personal feel to it when compared to his other works. It definitely is probably one of the best romantic comedies to ever be released, just over the sheer fact that it's much more different and against the norm. The average RomCom is wholly predictable and flat. Punch-Drunk Love is none of that. It's quirky, it's strange, it has interesting characters and themes present. With only an hour and a half, Anderson perfectly constructs a story and develops it as the progresses.

 

Adam Sandler is not a great actor at all, and in his comedic roles he doesn't display much range. Leave it to Anderson to truly bring out the best in Sandler. This is Sandler's best acting and best role ever, end of discussion. He was absolutely perfect for Barry Egan, the awkward, yet emotionally complex. There's a loving side to Barry, but what we see is a man who is just simply weird, isolated, and full of rage. It's only when he meets Lena, where he truly falls in love, as he believes she's the one that can truly accept him for the person he is, despite being flawed. Emily Watson is also terrific as Lena, as she shares many great moments with Sandler and the two have wonderful chemistry. Philip Seymour Hoffman has only three scenes, but again, such an amazing talent. His phone call with Sandler towards the end of the film was absolutely hilarious, including his freak-out.

 

One of the things that feels forced with romantic comedies of today is how there's a reason for why the couple get together. As explored in Magnolia, there simply are events that are just unexplainable; eg, things happen. That carries over to this film. In the beginning of the film we witness three random events, such as a car crash that seemed to have come out of nowhere, a harmonium being dropped off for no apparent reason, and the arrival of Lena. We can't control it, things happen. While it was revealed that Barry's sister was simply trying to hook up the two of them, much to Barry's dismay. Barry has love to give, but simply doesn't want to, he doesn't feel capable of. Lena is the one who likes him, just based off a picture of him. He can't help it, he can't control it, it just happens.

 

The film features many of the usual styles we see present in Anderson's film, though this film features a very different look, or appeal, as it's almost art-house. Sure it features his trademark moving shots, but visually, it's quite different than any of his works. The video-art interludes are fantastic and are a perfect look into what is possibly going on in the mind of one Barry Egan. Same thing with the music score by Jon Brion which really captures Barry's state of mind.

 

Punch-Drunk Love is a really, really good RomCom. And as I said, one of the better ones, because it's just so different and made so well, with a brilliant performance from a lead that we all look down upon. I really can't put my finger on why I truly love this one, but I think it's much better if you see it and find out why.

 

"People are just crazy in this world, I think."

 

There Will Be Blood - 2007 - 4.5/5 - starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano

"I Drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"

 

When I first saw There Will Be Blood, I was underwhelmed. I didn't dislike it, but compared to Paul Thomas Anderson's previous films, it just felt different. In terms of style and narrative that is. This is my second time watching this film, and I can say that it has greatly improved on rewatch. Watching it and paying much closer attention I can see how There Will Be Blood is really the major step in Anderson becoming more of an auteur than just a regular Hollywood filmmaker. The film chronicles Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he goes from being a miner to an oil tycoon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and his ruthless quest for wealth.

 

One day Daniel and a group of miners accidentally come across an oil well in Southern California, which results in the death of a worker. Daniel adopts that man's child and considers him own, except he uses him as a sort of bait when talking to other people. This is to only give off the appearance that he's a good man and a trustworthy businessman that wants you to sell him your land. As the film progresses, we only find out more and more of how much of awful person he could be. It's funny how one could stumble upon a discovery that would forever change them into a rotten person. Daniel Plainview's sole motives is to control as much land and oil properties as possible, and continue filling his pocket up. While in the beginning we think he's just a businessman, someone that's good, as it goes on we think otherwise.

 

Anderson really went out of his own and into another era to craft a story about greed. While it's partially based on Upton Sinclair's novel, "Oil!", it's nearly wholly original. The novel is just the blueprint and basis. Anderson craft's together an epic drama film about one man and his quest. The more he gets (Plainview), the more increasingly he becomes distant from everyone and more ruthless. Anderson has perfectly captured the era present, from sets to costumes to the look and feel, just everything. He captured the 70's/80's well in Boogie Nights, and he captures the ending and the beginning of centuries in There Will Be Blood.

 

For the most part, There Will Be Blood is different visually speaking when compared to his other films. There's not as much moving shots, and it has more artistic, atmospheric feel to it, especially in the second half of the film where it gets considerably, much more darker. There's a lot of brilliantly shot as well as edited sequences such as the oil explosion scene and the bowling alley scene (which is at the end). But to fair, it's not right to just single those two out, when Robert Elswit's work is amazing here, probably the best of his collaborations with Anderson. Johny Greenwood's score, perfectly creates a soundtrack reminiscent of that time period and matches the film beautifully. It can be joyous and it can be frightening. Greenwood's score is vital to There Will Be Blood, as it really elevates the film.

 

The acting, well while there's great supporting actors in Kevin J. O'Connor, Paul Dano, and Ciaran Hinds, ultimately, it's Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as Daniel Plainview that's the grabber. I think he's a great actor, but in some of his films, I yearn to want more from the man. Here, he fully becomes this character and just embraces the madness of Daniel Plainview. There's never a moment where I feel like I'm watching Daniel Day-Lewis trying to get an Oscar (I'm looking at you, Lincoln), but simply Daniel Plainview. His tirade to Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) at the end of the film sent shivers down my body. Anderson writes the characters extremely well, especially Plainview, though while I like the other characters, I which there's a bit more development towards them. That's really only my only gripe.

 

By the end of the film, Daniel Plainview has everything he has ever wanted. He is alone, no friends, no family, nothing but wealth and greed. Exactly what he wanted. From the second act and onwards when really begin to dislike Daniel Plainview, and wish the worst for him. In the end, it doesn't come true. An evil man like him deserves to be alone and have no one. It used to bug me, but now I understand it. Paul Thomas Anderson's Oil epic is exactly that, an epic. A truly terrifically made film and I would say one of the most important of the 21st century.

 

"There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me!"

 

The Master - 2012 - 5/5 - starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman

"If you leave me now, in the next life you will be my sworn enemy. And I will show you no mercy."

 

I get notifications all the time from the American Cinematheque, and I had got one that disclosed that there was going to be a screening of Kurbrick's The Shining in 70mm on Saturday August 4th, 2012, as well as another film in 70mm too. I almost went to the Egyptian theater that night, but realized there was an MMA fight on the same time and I wasn't going to miss one of my favorite fighters, Lyoto Machida compete. As it would turn out, that other 70mm screening would be of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. If only I had drove up to the theater that night, I could've witnessed two amazing films in astounding 70mm. It's been nearly three years and I still beat myself up for that.

 

I'm going to try and keep this shorter as I just saw this last summer for the second time, so everything is still fresh, but I really have to say that no matter how much praise I give Anderson's other films, specifically Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, I really have to say that The Master is by far my favorite film from him. Like I've said before, Anderson is an auteur and this film only cements that. He's gone from writing characters and arcs for them, to writing character studies. We've seen this with Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood and now with Freddie Quell in The Master.

 

Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) is definitely a character that intrigues me a lot. From the very beginning we see the strangeness of this character, though that's probably the wrong word. What I should say is troubled. He's an alcoholic, he's sex starved, and he's lonely. He goes around looking for guidance. He needs to be guided, and that's where Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) comes in. For Dodd he see's great potential in Freddie and wants to teach him and guide him and show him the way of The Cause (Dodd's religious cult movement). By the end of the film, they both realize they aren't meant for each other. No matter how hard Dodd tries, he won't be able to tame the animal that is Freddie and fully bring him to The Cause. No matter how hard Freddie tries, he just isn't ready for The Cause. In the end, Freddie has learned to survive in this Post-WWII world and be his own master.

 

I'd say that technically The Master is more in line with There Will Be Blood than his previous films, but I like it. It's something new for Anderson, but he's not keen on having his old style or tricks present. He is more interested in telling a story and a character. I will say though, The Master is by far my favorite film from Anderson, visually as well as thematically. I'm seriously jealous of anyone who got to witness this in 70mm projection. This is just a beautiful looking film. Another thing I want to say is that rewatching this, I feel like Johny Greenwood's score was reflective of what was going on in Freddie's mind, much like Jon Brion's score for Barry Egan in Punch-Drunk Love.

 

The Master is simply a flawless film and I can't praise it enough. No matter how hard I try, whether I do a short or long review, my word is never good enough for this film. The Master is an experience that should be experienced by everyone. It's a magnificent film and one of the finest films of the last decade. If I've learned anything from Paul Thomas Anderson, it's that he definitely is The Master.

 

"I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you."

 

Inherent Vice - 2014 - 4.5/5 - starring Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin

"What's Up, Doc?"

 

Well here it is, finally saw Inherent Vice. Now what was that that I just watched. I've heard from some people that Thomas Pynchon is quite difficult to adapt, so I have no idea about the novel of this film, and whether it is or not, or whether Pynchon's style best suits Paul Thomas Anderson. What I can say is that I did enjoy this film. I think. I don't know, I have to say it's probably the haziest film of 2014, but it certainly was interesting. It felt different than Anderson's previous film, The Master, but it also feels like a great throwback to the classic noir films of the forties/fifties.

 

Inherent Vice takes place in 1970 California and follows private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a pot smoking, hippie. Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston), Doc's ex-girlfriend walks into his beach house and talks to him about her new lover, land developer, Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), and a plan to get him abducted and committed to an insane asylum. Doc takes a case from Tariq Kahlil (Michael K. Williams) to find Glen Charlock, a bodyguard of Wolfmann's who owes Tariq money. As the film progresses, Doc ends up accepted other cases, which all somehow weirdly appear to be connected someone, and it's up to Doc to solve it all.

 

Is this a confusing film? Yes and no. It doesn't have any sort of major plot twists that if you miss, the film is up in the air. It's one that really requires you're complete undivided attention, and maybe an extra viewing to full grasp everything. It's also wise to listen to the narrations as well, as they give you insights on what's going on. However, Inherent Vice is actually pretty easy to follow, especially on a first watch. It seems to be getting a divisive approach, which I could see why, but it's far from being horrible. It has a classic approach to it. The more the film progresses, the more stories and characters we're introduced to. This, however, doesn't bog the film down. Doc Sportello is simply a guy who really can't say no. Everything is intended to be a mess of hazy pot smoke, and it's up to the pot head detective to piece it all together. Each character and sub-plot is essentially vital in piecing together a much bigger puzzle for Doc.

 

The trailer doesn't really do the film justice, as it was marketed as this neo-noir slapstick comedy film, which it is, but at times doesn't play out like one. There's definitely humor present, which I wouldn't say is hit or miss, but it's definitely not the main focal point of the film. That doesn't mean it's hilarious because I did find it to be, especially with scenes where it wasn't meant to be hilarious. It's a mystery film, a classic neo-noir mystery that sort of replaces what would normally be tense, thrilling scenes with humor. It's this 70's, zany mystery film.

 

This is probably one of the best ensemble cast's in recent memory and the best for Anderson since Magnolia. All great performances all around, whether it's from Martin Short, Owen Wilson, or Benicio Del Toro, who really don't have a lot of screen time, they just have a huge presence. Especially with Josh Brolin, who is terrific as Lt. Det. Christian "Bigfoot" Bjornson. Joaquin Phoenix still amazes me as he really is Doc Sportello. I can't think of a single actor that would do the marvels that Phoenix has done with the character. My favorite performance of the film is by far Katherine Waterston's Shasta Fay Hepworth, she's nothing short of brilliant.

 

I wouldn't say this is my favorite looking film, visually and technically speaking from Anderson. I do enjoy a great nostalgic, and classic look of my home state, California, but Inherent Vice certainly feels much more relaxed in comparison to his previous film. There's definitely great beauty behind Anderson's direction and Robert Elswit's 35mm cinematography. This film prefers to use the characters and the mood set the atmosphere and move the film. It's all about these characters in 1970 California. I actually like the approach taken here by Anderson, and I think it works really perfect for this film, then it would for some of his others. The score by Johny Greenwood is also a piece of work. Much like his previous two scores, Greenwood is perfect for Anderson, as Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross are for David Fincher. The score really echoes the time and the overall mood of each scene perfectly. Great stuff.

 

Before I began writing this I was set on giving this four stars, but it takes writing about it to really bring out the great positives and love I have for it. Inherent Vice is another terrific film from Paul Thomas Anderson, and one that I know will only get better with each viewing. I think this will be one of his more revered works and will be the subject to several studies and critiques in the future.

 

Thank you Paul Thomas Anderson for another outstanding film.

 

"Chotto, Kenichiro, Dozo! Motto panukeiku... motto panukeiku! MOTTO PANUKEIKU!"



#27 thecasinoroyale

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 03:53 PM

'Birdman' (2014)

 

When a film starts with a cooky opening titles, a soundtrack that sounds like someone high banging drums in a random beat and intercut with a split-second shot of jellyfish washed up on a beach, I felt a little pit in my stomach that this is going to be one of those surreal indie films that always garner critical acclaim by being confusing, complex and posing more questions than answers. Thankfully I was proved wrong after the first 15 minutes or so as the film found it’s footing.

 

At times this film tries to be too clever, more so in the opening act and it took me a while to get into the feel of things. For a very simple story which reminded me of the 1992 Michael Caine film ‘Noises Off!’, it is set in and around a theatre on Broadway and focuses on the journey a group of actors and friends/family make while trying to launch a new production against the backdrop of personal issues, flaws and social pressure. By being simple, it’s very enjoyable and doesn’t pose too many moments for you to stop and think; it’s appears surreal at first when you see Michael Keaton’s Riggan levitating and using telekinesis in his dressing room, but the more we learn about him and his situation, the more it makes sense.

 

Michael Keaton was the draw for me, and I wouldn’t have watched this were it not for him, which is a shame, because I found that the supporting cast of Ed Norton, Emma Stone et al are all super in their roles. Very passionate, very interesting and very funny in their own darkly comical way, but also quite real and working with Keaton to give us some intriguing characters.

 

Toying with the fact that after 1992’s ‘Batman Returns’, Keaton himself as a big-name Hollywood actor started to fizzle out and appear in a number of notable but less memorable films over the next few decades until making a gradual comeback with big-name movies such as ‘Cars’, ‘Toy Story 3’, ‘RoboCop’ and now peaking with ‘Birdman’, his character of Riggan darkly mirrors that; formerly known for playing the superhero who vanished in the early 90s, he now struggles for a reputable career and is taking a gamble with making his name in Broadway. While Riggan never comes over as someone bordering on the mentally insane due to the moments he envisions himself as a sort of demi-god, he portrays a man torn between the success of the past and the fear of the future; wanting to be someone successful for the right reasons and struggling to maintain his enthusiasm for the industry and those around him.

 

Keaton plays it wonderfully restrained, but gives us lots of moments of raw emotion without being melodramatic, very witty and observant without being comedic and hauntingly real without being hammy. He’s always been a brilliant actor, he just hasn’t had the right material for him to showcase it bar a few films in the 90s allowing him to escape the ‘Batman’ and ‘Beetlejuice’ shadow. ‘Birdman’ manages to do that, showcasing his engrossing acting ability and his ability to make you laugh, cry and think.

 

Technically this is a superb film, when half-way through you realise there hasn’t been a single visible cut. It’s one long take, obviously using slight camera trickery and visual effects to blur transitions from interior/exterior/long/short shots, but you’ll probably never notice and you’ll simply be hooked on the electrifying performances from our main actors who are simply dealing with darkly funny topics as they try to rehearse their play.

 

It’s a lot of fun, but done in very clever and rewarding way for the viewer to see great sets both in and out of the theatre and great performances, accompanied by a soundtrack by Antonio Sanchez that could represent Riggan’s chaotic mind. So don’t worry about it being another film that substitutes story and style for deep morality and strange narrative, this is a cutting edge look at modern society and the cut-throat world of the media in many mediums that is charming and clever, but thought-provoking and dark in presentation.



#28 Tarl_Cabot

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 05:13 PM

Jack Ryan: Shadow recruit

 

I get why star Chris Pine recently stated that he regretted that this movie didn't work or make enough to merrit a sequel. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't worthy of a theaterical release. If anything, it was a solid pilot for a new TV series but with so many good tv shows these days they still needed to do more. There was a pointless scene with Ken Branagh that did nothing to advance the plot but gave a chance to wink at the audience and say "Look we're in Moscow. Really!".

 

Hollywood is in love with Russians as the bad guys and it's getting a bit tiresome. Perhaps because they are 1. white (PC brigade made happy) and 2. formerly commies(so Right wingers will buy tickets?).

 

Kevin Costner...plays himself again...You gotta respect Michael Douglas for playing Liberace...at least he's friggin trying!  It must be nice to get paid well to do nothing but show up be yourself and do virtually no preparation whatsoever.



#29 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 05:33 PM

Watched the work of another director, this time -- Paul Thomas Anderson.

 

Hard Eight - 1996 - 4/5 - starring Phillip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly

"This is very f***** up situation."

 

Ahhh, it feels great to once again start looking into another director's work, this time being Paul Thomas Anderson. I've pretty much seen every one of his films, save for the short films, but Hard Eight, his first directorial outing was one I haven't seen. I didn't even hear about it until around a year or so ago. Sat down and watched this and I was actually very surprised at how this turned out. Hard Eight is a rather small, short, and basic film in comparison with PTA's follow up film Boogie Nights, yet well done.

 

The film opens up with an older man, Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) offering a man, John (John C. Reilly) sitting outside a diner a cup of coffee and a cigarette. John agrees and the two begin to talk, with John confessing that he's got a gambling problem and that he needs $6,000 for his mother's funeral. Reluctantly, John joins Sydney in Las Vegas where Sydney teaches him to properly gamble, as well as essentially beating the casino and getting a large payout. Two years pass and John is now his protege and has a new friend who does security work at a casino, Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson) as well as being attracted to Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow), a waitress at a casino lounge.

 

The film is rather low-key, as is the script, following basic structure, narrative, etc. It's definitely not as bold, and standout-ish as Boogie Nights or even Magnolia, but that doesn't mean this is a bad film. Like Anderson's later films, his stories often focus on characters present and their side as well as conflicts and such. That's definitely present here, as there certainly is morally ambiguous nature to Sydney. We know he's a very intelligent man, who's articulate with his words and thinks about his actions that follow and we know he is a gambler, who knows how to exploits loops or holes in casinos. There's still this shroud of the mystique to him that we are drawn to. There's conflicts present, which don't occur until Clementine and Jimmy show up, then things start going in the opposite direction. Sydney and John are conflicted with Clementine and her actions, and Jimmy seems to know something about Sydney that everyone else may not know.

 

When it comes to the acting, Phillip Baker Hall is definitely a huge reason to check this out. I always see him in a good roles, supporting roles, but never entirely a lead role. He has a unique look to him, and he really brings the character of Sydney to the screen perfectly. This truly is a character that he, and only he could play. Reilly is primarily known for comedic films, but all of his work with Anderson is by his best, especially in Hard Eight. It's funny seeing somebody who is great at comedy that you wouldn't expect to be just utterly outstanding in a dramatic turn. Gwyneth Paltrow is someone I don't normally hold my breath for, so it's a gamble with her, but I thought she was really good here. Same thing goes with Samuel L. Jackson, he's definitely got personality and presence, but I feel he wasn't as great as Hall and Reilly. Oh and then there's Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who has just five minutes, and actually upstages Hall in their scene. Really shows you how gifted of an actor he was.

 

With Hard Eight, we see the shots and techniques that would pretty much become standard, or style that would become a P.T. Anderson picture. It's got beautiful, yet low-key cinematography, especially showing us some of Anderson's feats like moving shots, which are all well done here. Editing, lighting, everything is well done here and for being his first film (outside of shorts), Anderson doesn't falter at all. Hard Eight has a great noir vibe to it, which enhances the overall structure of the film -- for me at least. It's very impressive on the technical aspect of film, great work all around.

 

Usually in Anderson's films, I'm drawn to his characters and his writing behind them. Whether it's Dirk Diggler or Freddie Quell, there's something interesting to them. Even if it's a character that isn't say entirely fleshed, the man knows how to develop a character. With Hard Eight virtually every character isn't all that interesting, or rather likable. It's funny writing that, considering his follow up film would be a vast improvement on this aspect. Another aspect is how the film does go into the territory of predictability. It doesn't make it slow, or dull, but by the middle of the second act, you can sort of see where the direction is headed next.

 

For his first film, I was impressed greatly with how Paul Thomas Anderson did on Hard Eight. Sure it's not a masterpiece some of his other works, or has aesthetically pleasing, but there's no denying that Hard Eight is still a very well made film. I would say that so far it's his weakest film, but that's not a bad thing for such a great director like PTA. It's still terrific and worth a watch.

 

"I will f*** you up if you f*** with me, okay? I know three kinds of karate: Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, and regular karate."

 

Boogie Nights - 1997 - 5/5 - starring Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds

"I got a feeling that behind those jeans is something wonderful waiting to get out."

 

Hard Eight, although very basic was a very promising look at the future for Paul Thomas Anderson's career. His sophomore follow up, Boogie Nights literally exceeds all expectations about this man and his filmmaking style and literally blows Hard Eight out of the water. While it's a film using the pornography boom as a backdrop, it's ultimately dealing with the themes of greed, excess, and these people's eventual downfalls. Boogie Nights is dramatic, it's hilarious, it's thrilling, it's just all around a terrific film.

 

Opening up in the San Fernando Valley, California, it's 1997 and the films chronicles the lives of several people who work in the pornography industry during what is called "The Golden Age Of Porn". Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is a seventeen year old high school drop out who works at a night club owned by Maurice Rodriguez (Luis Guzman), who happens to have ties to famed porn director, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). When Eddie is runs away from home after being berated by his emotionally abusive mother, he turns to Jack and begins a career in pornography as well as being introduced to the industry and the lifestyle of the various people involved. As the film progresses, we see Eddie, now known by his stage name, Dirk Diggler rise to fame as the top male star, and his fall to grace after being introduced to cocaine. Boogie Nights as chronicles the lives of several other characters and their personal matters as well.

 

As evident in Hard Eight, Anderson has a knack for characters, and he really lets us know with this film. It's a character(s) driven film, and each character is properly fleshed out and developed throughout the films two and a half hour running time. Anderson doesn't slack on the writing and lets us in on every single individual. Each character has their beginning, middle and end. They have their one specific goal, and by the end of the film they either achieve that and move on in life, or they just resort to their wicked ways. Most of these characters are just simply bad people, and incredibly selfish. They don't care about others, they just want more money in their pocket, and more powder up their nose. For some, it's about truly making a living and trying to be legitimate, other than getting paid to F*** on camera.

 

It's a tale of excess, Anderson just uses the pornographic setting and atmosphere as a backdrop to tell this story. We see what it's like to have money, cars, good looking women all around you, drugs, everything. The lifestyle you've always wanted is right there, all at your advantage. Buck (Don Cheadle) just wants to have his own stereo store and Reed (John C. Reilly) wants to be an accomplished magician. Dirk has no drive, no motive, other than money and drugs. Sure he has an enlarged male anatomy, but that's all he has. That's what makes him this star that everyone sees. We see a young man literally blow through his money in favor of snorting cocaine. For Jack, he was once a renowned filmmaker in porn, now he's nothing. Dirk Diggler and his package is what he feels brings him back to spotlight. Without each other, Dirk and Diggler are nothing. In the end, they just truly can't survive without each other.

 

The acting is on full display here as everyone in this ensemble cast turns in more than perfect performances. Whether it's the main leads such as Wahlberg, Reynolds, or Julianne Moore, or supporting cast members in Reilly, Cheadle, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, or small roles in Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina, Robert Ridgely, and Phillip Baker Hall. Everyone in Boogie Nights is just outstanding. There are no weak links and everyone plays off of each other so brilliantly. The dialogue they are given just seems to flow and work like music with them. The acting alone from such an awesome cast in this should be worth watching. Hell, Alfred Molina's ten minutes (or so) as Rahad Jackson, the crazy drug dealer towards the end is worth watching alone.

 

The acting however is most importantly attributed to Anderson's incredible writing and directing. Second film under his belt and the man doesn't just have a general sense of what to do right, but rather how to do it, but just improve vastly on his previous film. That's Paul Thomas Anderson with his subsequent film he makes. The script is so rich with these characters and dialogue, it just simply oozes cool. He manages to tell this six to seven year spanning story masterfully. Getting every little detail in there as well properly establishing plots present. He directs everything with such flare and grandeur, but still maintaining a grounded level of realism.

 

The cinematography is beautiful in this film, just absolutely beautiful. From the opening long shot that establishes the era and introduces us to our characters, to the brilliant moving cam shots. I particularly liked how during the pornographic scenes the camera and film type switches, as I felt it added further to the realism and the overall feel of it. The editing is done great, as everything just flows from scene to scene, without feeling like it's getting repetitive. And then there's the soundtrack. There's very little musical score present, as it's largely music driven, featuring songs from the 70's and 80's. Opening with "Best Of My Love" it quickly thrusts you into the disco/night scene. Each subsequent song fits the scene perfectly and brings mood to it.

 

Boogie Nights was the first film from Paul Thomas Anderson that I saw and it was around five years or so ago. I've always enjoyed watching it, and it's one of the films that no matter how many times you see, it just never gets old. It's eighteen years old now (holy S***), but it honestly feels timeless to me. I can watch this everyday for a week, and never get sick of it. It's just that good.

 

"I like simple pleasures, like butter in my a**, lollipops in my mouth. That's just me. That's just something that I enjoy."

 

Magnolia - 1999 - 5/5 - starring A whole bunch of people

"What am I doing? I'm quietly judging you."

 

Hard Eight was the promising debut from Paul Thomas Anderson, and Boogie Nights took it several steps further and was in a league of it's own when compared to the former. So what about Anderson's third outing, Magnolia? It's incredibly tiresome. Tiresome in the right sense. It's a deeply, emotionally draining film. This only the second time watching it, and goddamn did it hit all of the right places. All of the emotional moments in the film felt like a gut punch. Magnolia doesn't just surpass Boogie Nights, it completely blows it out of the water. Yes, both films are completely different, but in terms of depth, this film is just absolutely incredible. It's just a further step forward for Anderson becoming the auteur he is today.

 

The film opens up with a narration provided by Ricky Jay about coincidences and suggests that forces greater than chance play important roles in life, thus, things happen. 1999, San Fernando Valley, California, Magnolia observes over the course of a single day the lives of several people, their problems and such and how they all intertwine with one another and how simply, things happen. It follows a dying man, Earl (Jason Robards) and his grief stricken wife, Linda (Julianne Moore) and how Earl just wants to see his estranged son, Frank (Tom Cruise) one last time. A police officer, Jim (John C. Reilly) who finds himself attracted to Claudia (Melora Walters) a woman who too is estranged from her father, Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), a host of a popular television game show. A former contestant on Gator's show, Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) who was taken advantage by his parents when he was kid and lost his money, and his now broke with numerous debts to pay off.

 

Rewatching this for the fist time in some time, Magnolia reminded me a lot of Robert Altman's film Short Cuts. Both films follow characters and how they end up interacting or intertwining by way of chance, though in the end, both films have very different themes. Altman's film is based on short stories by Raymond Carver, and Anderson's film is an original script, though Anderson's script has references to the book of exodus and other themes. Short Cuts deals with luck or chances, Magnolia doesn't. This film is more keen on the unexplained events, which are noted in the narration and the finale of the filmy, where it rains frogs. There's no complete explanation as to why, they just happen.

 

The film examines all of these people and stories and themes masterfully, though there's one thing that ties most of these characters together. Father issues. Of the ensemble, at least four or five of them have issues with their father, which overall results in their behavior. Frank's father was a liar and a cheat, so he claims to be this self-help guru for men, but all he does is lie. Claudia accuses her father of molesting her, which in turn causes her life to be a wreck and a drug addict. Donnie having his parents waste his money from when he was child and Stanley being practically forced on the show just so his father can get the game show money. As for the frogs, well I look at it as as a way of teaching us of what not to become. And that's these people. The only one who's really unfazed by all of this (the frogs) is Stanley, and he is the only one who confronts his problems in his story arc early on and makes his own decision. It's an integral part of the story.

 

The acting, well, I just can't specifically single out one or two actors in the film. It's just right, when considering everyone did a beautiful job with the film. Everyone has their respective plot line and their acting is brilliant. Just as brilliant as how they are introduced to us in the beginning of the film with Aimee Mann's "One" playing in the background as we get an insight into these people. These characters are all so perfectly constructed and developed thoroughly as the film progresses, all thanks to Anderson. I've already talked enough in my previous two reviews for his films about his love of characters, so there's no need to do it again, but this is probably his best in doing so. There was one scene that practically put me in tears and that's when Frank goes to see his dying father, Earl at the end of the film. It's acting from Cruise that was wonderful, as you can see emotions such as anger, pain, and even love in his face, but more specifically his eyes.

 

The cinematography is wonder in this film, though it's definitely less flashier and vibrant than Boogie Nights was. It is presented in a great, visually appealing way for being really average looking, but what I love most is the editing. In the middle of the film, we are shown several different story arcs going concurrently, and the editing ties everything together so well. Throughout the entire film, it does a spectacular job of being well weaved and transitioned. Not to mention, for three hours long, depending on your emotional status after it's over, it'll feel like it just breezed by you. I swear I thought this was around the two and half hour mark by the time it ended. The music, whether it's Jon Brion's score or the songs by Aimee Mann, all flow perfectly throughout the film and match the mood of each scene.

 

Magnolia is just a crazy, emotional roller coaster of a ride, but one that will you make you appreciate not just life in the end, but cinema. It's such a moving picture and one that sticks with you well after it's gone. It is literally perfect, just perfect in every aspect and further shows how Anderson can tackle just about anything that he puts his mind and work into. A true filmmaking genius.

 

"The book says, "We might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.' "

 

Punch-Drunk Love - 2002 - 4.5/5 - starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson

"I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine."

 

Paul Thomas Anderson further comes into his own with this near artistic, sublime romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love. It's different than his previous films, quite different and his shortest film to date at only eighty-seven minutes -- pre credits. Most people would look at those mid 2000 Romantic comedy films and say, that's how it is, but along comes Anderson who basically says F*** that, and crafts his own RomCom that blows them all out of the water. His style of filmmaking and his writing is perfect for crafting a film of this sub-genre.

 

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) is a single and lonely man who runs his company where he works alongside friend, Lance (Luis Guzman) where they market and sell themed toilet plungers. He is constantly ridiculed by his seven sisters and is love sick. He finds himself drawn yet shy, to the lovely Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), who happens to be a coworker of his sister Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub). Barry Egan is also the subject of extortion from a woman who gains all of his information after he does a phone sex meet On top of buying numerous boxes of Healthy Choice products' pudding as a means of amassing millions of frequent flyer miles due to the promotion with American Airlines, where Barry sees a loophole.

 

Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love is considerably tame by all accounts when compared to his previous two films. It definitely has much more personal feel to it when compared to his other works. It definitely is probably one of the best romantic comedies to ever be released, just over the sheer fact that it's much more different and against the norm. The average RomCom is wholly predictable and flat. Punch-Drunk Love is none of that. It's quirky, it's strange, it has interesting characters and themes present. With only an hour and a half, Anderson perfectly constructs a story and develops it as the progresses.

 

Adam Sandler is not a great actor at all, and in his comedic roles he doesn't display much range. Leave it to Anderson to truly bring out the best in Sandler. This is Sandler's best acting and best role ever, end of discussion. He was absolutely perfect for Barry Egan, the awkward, yet emotionally complex. There's a loving side to Barry, but what we see is a man who is just simply weird, isolated, and full of rage. It's only when he meets Lena, where he truly falls in love, as he believes she's the one that can truly accept him for the person he is, despite being flawed. Emily Watson is also terrific as Lena, as she shares many great moments with Sandler and the two have wonderful chemistry. Philip Seymour Hoffman has only three scenes, but again, such an amazing talent. His phone call with Sandler towards the end of the film was absolutely hilarious, including his freak-out.

 

One of the things that feels forced with romantic comedies of today is how there's a reason for why the couple get together. As explored in Magnolia, there simply are events that are just unexplainable; eg, things happen. That carries over to this film. In the beginning of the film we witness three random events, such as a car crash that seemed to have come out of nowhere, a harmonium being dropped off for no apparent reason, and the arrival of Lena. We can't control it, things happen. While it was revealed that Barry's sister was simply trying to hook up the two of them, much to Barry's dismay. Barry has love to give, but simply doesn't want to, he doesn't feel capable of. Lena is the one who likes him, just based off a picture of him. He can't help it, he can't control it, it just happens.

 

The film features many of the usual styles we see present in Anderson's film, though this film features a very different look, or appeal, as it's almost art-house. Sure it features his trademark moving shots, but visually, it's quite different than any of his works. The video-art interludes are fantastic and are a perfect look into what is possibly going on in the mind of one Barry Egan. Same thing with the music score by Jon Brion which really captures Barry's state of mind.

 

Punch-Drunk Love is a really, really good RomCom. And as I said, one of the better ones, because it's just so different and made so well, with a brilliant performance from a lead that we all look down upon. I really can't put my finger on why I truly love this one, but I think it's much better if you see it and find out why.

 

"People are just crazy in this world, I think."

 

There Will Be Blood - 2007 - 4.5/5 - starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano

"I Drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"

 

When I first saw There Will Be Blood, I was underwhelmed. I didn't dislike it, but compared to Paul Thomas Anderson's previous films, it just felt different. In terms of style and narrative that is. This is my second time watching this film, and I can say that it has greatly improved on rewatch. Watching it and paying much closer attention I can see how There Will Be Blood is really the major step in Anderson becoming more of an auteur than just a regular Hollywood filmmaker. The film chronicles Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he goes from being a miner to an oil tycoon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and his ruthless quest for wealth.

 

One day Daniel and a group of miners accidentally come across an oil well in Southern California, which results in the death of a worker. Daniel adopts that man's child and considers him own, except he uses him as a sort of bait when talking to other people. This is to only give off the appearance that he's a good man and a trustworthy businessman that wants you to sell him your land. As the film progresses, we only find out more and more of how much of awful person he could be. It's funny how one could stumble upon a discovery that would forever change them into a rotten person. Daniel Plainview's sole motives is to control as much land and oil properties as possible, and continue filling his pocket up. While in the beginning we think he's just a businessman, someone that's good, as it goes on we think otherwise.

 

Anderson really went out of his own and into another era to craft a story about greed. While it's partially based on Upton Sinclair's novel, "Oil!", it's nearly wholly original. The novel is just the blueprint and basis. Anderson craft's together an epic drama film about one man and his quest. The more he gets (Plainview), the more increasingly he becomes distant from everyone and more ruthless. Anderson has perfectly captured the era present, from sets to costumes to the look and feel, just everything. He captured the 70's/80's well in Boogie Nights, and he captures the ending and the beginning of centuries in There Will Be Blood.

 

For the most part, There Will Be Blood is different visually speaking when compared to his other films. There's not as much moving shots, and it has more artistic, atmospheric feel to it, especially in the second half of the film where it gets considerably, much more darker. There's a lot of brilliantly shot as well as edited sequences such as the oil explosion scene and the bowling alley scene (which is at the end). But to fair, it's not right to just single those two out, when Robert Elswit's work is amazing here, probably the best of his collaborations with Anderson. Johny Greenwood's score, perfectly creates a soundtrack reminiscent of that time period and matches the film beautifully. It can be joyous and it can be frightening. Greenwood's score is vital to There Will Be Blood, as it really elevates the film.

 

The acting, well while there's great supporting actors in Kevin J. O'Connor, Paul Dano, and Ciaran Hinds, ultimately, it's Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as Daniel Plainview that's the grabber. I think he's a great actor, but in some of his films, I yearn to want more from the man. Here, he fully becomes this character and just embraces the madness of Daniel Plainview. There's never a moment where I feel like I'm watching Daniel Day-Lewis trying to get an Oscar (I'm looking at you, Lincoln), but simply Daniel Plainview. His tirade to Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) at the end of the film sent shivers down my body. Anderson writes the characters extremely well, especially Plainview, though while I like the other characters, I which there's a bit more development towards them. That's really only my only gripe.

 

By the end of the film, Daniel Plainview has everything he has ever wanted. He is alone, no friends, no family, nothing but wealth and greed. Exactly what he wanted. From the second act and onwards when really begin to dislike Daniel Plainview, and wish the worst for him. In the end, it doesn't come true. An evil man like him deserves to be alone and have no one. It used to bug me, but now I understand it. Paul Thomas Anderson's Oil epic is exactly that, an epic. A truly terrifically made film and I would say one of the most important of the 21st century.

 

"There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me!"

 

The Master - 2012 - 5/5 - starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman

"If you leave me now, in the next life you will be my sworn enemy. And I will show you no mercy."

 

I get notifications all the time from the American Cinematheque, and I had got one that disclosed that there was going to be a screening of Kurbrick's The Shining in 70mm on Saturday August 4th, 2012, as well as another film in 70mm too. I almost went to the Egyptian theater that night, but realized there was an MMA fight on the same time and I wasn't going to miss one of my favorite fighters, Lyoto Machida compete. As it would turn out, that other 70mm screening would be of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. If only I had drove up to the theater that night, I could've witnessed two amazing films in astounding 70mm. It's been nearly three years and I still beat myself up for that.

 

I'm going to try and keep this shorter as I just saw this last summer for the second time, so everything is still fresh, but I really have to say that no matter how much praise I give Anderson's other films, specifically Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, I really have to say that The Master is by far my favorite film from him. Like I've said before, Anderson is an auteur and this film only cements that. He's gone from writing characters and arcs for them, to writing character studies. We've seen this with Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood and now with Freddie Quell in The Master.

 

Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) is definitely a character that intrigues me a lot. From the very beginning we see the strangeness of this character, though that's probably the wrong word. What I should say is troubled. He's an alcoholic, he's sex starved, and he's lonely. He goes around looking for guidance. He needs to be guided, and that's where Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) comes in. For Dodd he see's great potential in Freddie and wants to teach him and guide him and show him the way of The Cause (Dodd's religious cult movement). By the end of the film, they both realize they aren't meant for each other. No matter how hard Dodd tries, he won't be able to tame the animal that is Freddie and fully bring him to The Cause. No matter how hard Freddie tries, he just isn't ready for The Cause. In the end, Freddie has learned to survive in this Post-WWII world and be his own master.

 

I'd say that technically The Master is more in line with There Will Be Blood than his previous films, but I like it. It's something new for Anderson, but he's not keen on having his old style or tricks present. He is more interested in telling a story and a character. I will say though, The Master is by far my favorite film from Anderson, visually as well as thematically. I'm seriously jealous of anyone who got to witness this in 70mm projection. This is just a beautiful looking film. Another thing I want to say is that rewatching this, I feel like Johny Greenwood's score was reflective of what was going on in Freddie's mind, much like Jon Brion's score for Barry Egan in Punch-Drunk Love.

 

The Master is simply a flawless film and I can't praise it enough. No matter how hard I try, whether I do a short or long review, my word is never good enough for this film. The Master is an experience that should be experienced by everyone. It's a magnificent film and one of the finest films of the last decade. If I've learned anything from Paul Thomas Anderson, it's that he definitely is The Master.

 

"I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you."

 

Inherent Vice - 2014 - 4.5/5 - starring Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin

"What's Up, Doc?"

 

Well here it is, finally saw Inherent Vice. Now what was that that I just watched. I've heard from some people that Thomas Pynchon is quite difficult to adapt, so I have no idea about the novel of this film, and whether it is or not, or whether Pynchon's style best suits Paul Thomas Anderson. What I can say is that I did enjoy this film. I think. I don't know, I have to say it's probably the haziest film of 2014, but it certainly was interesting. It felt different than Anderson's previous film, The Master, but it also feels like a great throwback to the classic noir films of the forties/fifties.

 

Inherent Vice takes place in 1970 California and follows private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a pot smoking, hippie. Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston), Doc's ex-girlfriend walks into his beach house and talks to him about her new lover, land developer, Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), and a plan to get him abducted and committed to an insane asylum. Doc takes a case from Tariq Kahlil (Michael K. Williams) to find Glen Charlock, a bodyguard of Wolfmann's who owes Tariq money. As the film progresses, Doc ends up accepted other cases, which all somehow weirdly appear to be connected someone, and it's up to Doc to solve it all.

 

Is this a confusing film? Yes and no. It doesn't have any sort of major plot twists that if you miss, the film is up in the air. It's one that really requires you're complete undivided attention, and maybe an extra viewing to full grasp everything. It's also wise to listen to the narrations as well, as they give you insights on what's going on. However, Inherent Vice is actually pretty easy to follow, especially on a first watch. It seems to be getting a divisive approach, which I could see why, but it's far from being horrible. It has a classic approach to it. The more the film progresses, the more stories and characters we're introduced to. This, however, doesn't bog the film down. Doc Sportello is simply a guy who really can't say no. Everything is intended to be a mess of hazy pot smoke, and it's up to the pot head detective to piece it all together. Each character and sub-plot is essentially vital in piecing together a much bigger puzzle for Doc.

 

The trailer doesn't really do the film justice, as it was marketed as this neo-noir slapstick comedy film, which it is, but at times doesn't play out like one. There's definitely humor present, which I wouldn't say is hit or miss, but it's definitely not the main focal point of the film. That doesn't mean it's hilarious because I did find it to be, especially with scenes where it wasn't meant to be hilarious. It's a mystery film, a classic neo-noir mystery that sort of replaces what would normally be tense, thrilling scenes with humor. It's this 70's, zany mystery film.

 

This is probably one of the best ensemble cast's in recent memory and the best for Anderson since Magnolia. All great performances all around, whether it's from Martin Short, Owen Wilson, or Benicio Del Toro, who really don't have a lot of screen time, they just have a huge presence. Especially with Josh Brolin, who is terrific as Lt. Det. Christian "Bigfoot" Bjornson. Joaquin Phoenix still amazes me as he really is Doc Sportello. I can't think of a single actor that would do the marvels that Phoenix has done with the character. My favorite performance of the film is by far Katherine Waterston's Shasta Fay Hepworth, she's nothing short of brilliant.

 

I wouldn't say this is my favorite looking film, visually and technically speaking from Anderson. I do enjoy a great nostalgic, and classic look of my home state, California, but Inherent Vice certainly feels much more relaxed in comparison to his previous film. There's definitely great beauty behind Anderson's direction and Robert Elswit's 35mm cinematography. This film prefers to use the characters and the mood set the atmosphere and move the film. It's all about these characters in 1970 California. I actually like the approach taken here by Anderson, and I think it works really perfect for this film, then it would for some of his others. The score by Johny Greenwood is also a piece of work. Much like his previous two scores, Greenwood is perfect for Anderson, as Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross are for David Fincher. The score really echoes the time and the overall mood of each scene perfectly. Great stuff.

 

Before I began writing this I was set on giving this four stars, but it takes writing about it to really bring out the great positives and love I have for it. Inherent Vice is another terrific film from Paul Thomas Anderson, and one that I know will only get better with each viewing. I think this will be one of his more revered works and will be the subject to several studies and critiques in the future.

 

Thank you Paul Thomas Anderson for another outstanding film.

 

"Chotto, Kenichiro, Dozo! Motto panukeiku... motto panukeiku! MOTTO PANUKEIKU!"

 

What a major piece of writing, Ace!  Right up my alley.  I haven´t seen INHERENT VICE yet - but I really, really want to.  Reading the novel right now, and it´s hilarious!



#30 Safari Suit

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 09:53 PM

The Girlfriend Experience

Major chin-stroking time. Worth a look if you're in the mood for something brief and a bit different.






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