Showing posts from 2017

Chinatown Review

Chinatown is a 1974 noir film written by Robert Towne and directed by Roman Polanski. It was nominated for several Oscars in 1975 and won Best Original Screenplay. The screenplay has become regarded as one of the best of all time and is used in several screenwriting classes.

Private Detective JJ Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired to solve the murder of the head of the California water department. However, he discovers that there is more than murder afoot, including a conspiracy involving the deceased man's widow (Faye Dunaway) and her father, who ran the department with his son in law.

I've shaved a lot off of that synopsis, because there are a lot of really good, unexpected twists that I don't want to spoil for you. The story is complex, but in a good way. It forces you to pay attention to all the little details that form the bigger picture. It's also enjoyable to watch this small mystery unfurl into something much bigger in scope, as shocking twists are revealed a…

Hush Review

Hush is a 2016 horror/thriller written/directed by Mike Flanagan and co-written by Kate Siegle, who also stars in the film as the lead. The film has received mixed responses since its release. On the one hand, critics have praised it as an excellent exercise in tense film making, while audiences have been less forgiving, giving it only a 66% on IMDB.

A young writer (Kate Siegle), who is both deaf and mute, lives in a secluded cabin in the middle of the woods. One night, she is set upon by a mysterious psychopath, who wants to do nothing more than play a sadistic little game with her before murdering her. She can't hear him or call for help. All she can do is hope to survive until day light.

The set up is genius in regards to horror and tension-filled possibilities. With her disabilities it makes it easier for our villain to sneak up on her multiple times and while she doesn't know he's behind her, the audience does which makes us extremely tense. There are also severa…

Things I Think Should Be Rebooted Pt2

Wow, the first one of these was a lot more popular than I was expecting. Well, I guess I'll have to take a page out of Hollywood's book and do another one even if the quality of the previous entry was debatable at best. Before we go into the second list I should clarify what I think of as a reboot: not a continuation. I know I put something like that on my last list, but when I think reboot I think of what was done with Dredd or Casino Royale: completely different casts, possibly new continuity and an entirely new story taking notes from pervious incarnations, but never bouncing off of them. Now that we have the logistics out of the way, let's do this.

Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Even though I don't hate the new incarnation of Whose Line on the CW I'll admit that the revival just doesn't have the same energy as the original. The cast members have all gotten noticeably older and they're targeting a younger audience which leads to a lot less wit and charm and a l…

Clerks Review

Clerks is a 1994 comedy written/produced/directed by Kevin Smith. This was Smith's inaugural film and has grown into a full-blown cult classic over the past twenty-three years.

The film covers a day in the lives of Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and his friend Randal (Jeff Anderson), two 22-year-old clerks who work at a Quickie-Mart and dirty movie store respectively. It chronicles several scenarios, mostly consisting of dialogue, that Dante and Randal must traverse throughout the day. They mostly involve hockey, dead guys with boners and annoying customers. On the surface, this seems like a really good idea for a sitcom type movie. However, it's a movie made by Kevin Smith so this promise is pretty much squandered. I'm not even sure where to begin with this one.

Let's start by talking about dialogue pacing, which, if done right, is something you barely notice in a movie if you notice it at all. It's the speed at which the conversation goes, involving pauses, sp…

Star Wars Legends Stories that Should Become Cannon

I'm a bit disappointed with how Disney has treated Star Wars since they bought out Lucasfilm. Don't get me wrong, some of the comics are really good (Princess Leia) and I'm still excited/nervous for The Last Jedi, but in my opinion Disney have been cowards when it comes to the stuff in between the movies. They are slavishly devoted to only telling stories within the Age of the Empire, shaking in their boots to go anywhere near the prequels in case that might piss off the fanboys. However, we must remember that even though the prequels were, and still are, crappy, their existance was made tolerable by all the good things they spawned. We got Genndy Tartakovsky excellent Star Wars Clone Wars in 2003 which lead to the pretty good Star Wars: The Clone Wars a few years later. Prequel stuff shouldn't be thrown by the wayside just because it's of the prequels and with that in mind here are the top 5 Star Wars stories that I think should be cannon and by cannon I mean made…

Room Review

Room is a 2015 drama/thriller written by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the book the film was based on, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson. The film was touted as one of the best films of the year, snatching up an Oscar for Brie Larson and putting child actor Jacob Tremblay on the map.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother, who he only knows as Ma (Brie Larson), have been trapped inside a room for seven years. Jacob has grown up believing that "Room" is the only world there is and the outside just can't be reached, However, when they finally do escape (it's not a spoiler, the trailer gave it away) they struggle to reintegrate into the outside world.

The entire first half of the movie takes place inside "Room", which I suppose is both a good thing and bad thing. On one hand, it creates the desire in the viewer to leave "Room" which is exactly what Ma and Jack are feeling. You can clearly see it's miserable for them there and you want them to s…

Things I Think Should Be Rebooted

As a general rule of thumb, I'm against the idea of reboots because it just fuels Hollywood's weird of obsession with being uncreative. However, it's not like I can't see an appeal; seeing something that you really like reinterpreted in a different way is really fun and can even lead to better interpretations than the one you liked before. The new version of Voltron on Netflix is pretty good and even though none of the reincarnations of the Transformers franchise has been perfect (my personal favorite being the Japanese Cybertron run on TV), each one always had at least one new, cool thing that they could bring to the table and add to the mythos. I personally do have some things that I'd like to see rebooted, meaning made better by a reinterpretation, and even have some ideas of how they could work.

The Lone Ranger
After the disastrous Armie Hammer/Johnny Depp film you'd think it was time to lay this franchise down the bed for another 50 years. However, I still …

Steve Jobs Review

Steve Jobs is a 2015 bio-drama written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle. Based on the biography written by Walter Isaacson, the film was nominated for two Oscars for Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, Apple's chief marketing executive.

The film's three acts are literally divided into three presentations Jobs gave during his lifetime; the launch of the Mac, the NEXT computer and the iMac in 1998. The film is a character study of who Steve Jobs was and why he acted the way he did.

The character of Steve Jobs is what makes this film so interesting because it's fascinating to think that a guy this insane and energetic actually existed. It's also interesting to see him learn through the years and become a better man. The best way the film illustrates his changing nature is his relationship with his daughter. At first, he's stubborn in his belief that she's not actually his daughter, no matter how much evidence there is. In…

Ex Machina Review

Ex Machina is a 2015 science fiction film written/directed by Alex Garland, who previously wrote the screenplay for the excellent cult action film Dredd and will be writing the upcoming film adaptation of the Halo video games. Though quickly forgotten by the public, the film garnered massive critical acclaim and was generally well received by those who went to see it. It received the award for best visual effects at the 2016 Oscars.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a promising young programmer, is invited to the house of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a reclusive billionaire who owns the company Caleb works at. He reveals to Caleb that he has developed and built an artificial intelligence robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) and he wants Caleb to have conversations with her to see if she could pass for human. However, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is afoot at Nathan's mansion and tensions rise as secrets are revealed.

The setup, while not very original, does a lot with it's …

The Untouchables Review

The Untouchables is a 1987 crime drama written by David Mamet and directed by Brian De Palma. The film is based on the true account of the main character Elliot Ness, who gathered together a group to form a vigilante squad to fight Al Capone. Sean Connery won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film.

In prohibition New York City, Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) is fed up with being unable to catch Al Capone (Robert De Niro) inside the confines of the law. He calls upon Jim Malone (Sean Connery), a beat cop with a nasty edge, to help him gather a small group of me to fight Capone without limitations or rules. As they stop more and more of Capone's operations, things become more and more dangerous and Elliot is pushed to the edge.

The setup and execution is a pretty standard mob movie fare, though with the added twist that it was based on true events. While this bit of trivia is interesting, it kind of took something out of the film for me. Whenever movies are b…

Apocalypse Now Review

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 war drama written/directed by Francis Ford Coppola and co-written by John Milius/Michael Herr. The movie was based on the short story Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which also inspired the video game Spec Ops: The Line. The film has become one of the seminal Vietnam War films and is considered one of the best movies of all time.

In the middle of the Vietnam War Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is tasked with hunting down and killing a rogue Colonel (Marlon Brando) who has been launching vigilante strikes against the Vietcong with his army of savage natives. He makes his way down river to where the Colonel is hiding, accompanied by the crew, and is forced to face the horrors of war and the darkest corners of Man's heart.

The themes of this film are just like every other Vietnam War movie and are pretty much explored in the same way: young, innocent soldiers having their lives stripped away by a war they wanted no part of, Americans destroyi…

The Godfather Part II Review

The Godfather Part II is a 1974 crime drama written/directed by Fracis Ford Coppola and co-written by Mario Puzo. The film is a sequel to the 1972 classic and was the only the only sequel to receive the Oscar for Best Picture until Return of the King won the same award in 2003.

Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) continues to run the Corleone crime family after his father's death. Surrounded on all sides by enemies and unsure of who to trust, he formulates a plan to eliminate his enemies and anybody who gets in the way of his success. In addition, we get flashbacks showing the early life of Don Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) and his rise to powerful crime boss.

Godfather Part II has roughly the same structure as the first Godfather movie; start the film with a celebratory event to show the difference between the life of family and The Family, an assassination attempt sparks a battle of wits, conspiracy and bloodshed and Michael is trying to survive and excel through all of it. It see…

John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 is a 2017 action film written by Derek Kolstad and directed by Chad Stahelski. The film is the sequel to the highly successful 2014 sleeper hit John Wick and is the second in a planned trilogy of films based around the character.

Only about a day after the events of the first film John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is trying to settle back into his recently disturbed retirement. However, since he voluntarily came out of retirement this means that Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) an Italian mobster, is able to call in a blood oath favor that John owes him. After initially refusing, John ultimately agrees if only to fulfill the contract so he can kill Santino. After he completes the contract, Santino, attempting to tie up loose ends, puts a bounty on John's head which sends every other assassin in New York after him.

The set up, though not as clean or straight forward as the setup for the first film, is a good setup for an action film and a natural progress…

Logan Review

Logan is a 2017 superhero Western drama written by James Mangold/Scott Frank/Michael Green and directed by James Mangold. The film is actor Hugh Jackman's final film as the titular character, which he has been playing for nearly two decades across multiple films. It's also the first Wolverine film to receive an R rating, which was explicitly used in the film's marketing.

In the year 2029, Logan, now an extremely bitter old man, is taking care of a degenerating Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) across the US/Mexican border. When a woman pays him to take Laura (Dafne Keen), a young girl, across the country to the Canadian border, Logan reluctantly excepts, especially when he finds out she has more in common with him than he would've thought.

The premise doesn't require you to know a whole lot about the X-Men film universe, since most of the characters from the previous films don't even make an appearance, but it certainly does help to know some things about t…

Argo Review

Argo is a 2012 spy drama written by Chris Terrio and directed by/starring Ben Affleck. The film was successful at the 2013 Academy Awards, earning Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture of the year.

Story Based on the true story of a CIA operation during the Iranian hostage crisis, it centers around Tony Mendez, an exfiltration specialist tasked with rescuing a group of six American embassy workers currently hiding in the Iranian Canadian embassy. In order to do this he hatches an unorthodox plan: using a fake movie as a cover to get the Americans out. Once he gets to Iran they disguise themselves as the film crew scouting for a film location. They just need to make sure they don't get caught.
The main characters are all just fine for the most part. The six escapees are all just kind of the same person: terrified and unsure of how this'll all go. However, that's what makes them relatable; since they're being kept as the everyman we know how they must fee…

Swiss Army Man Review

Swiss Army Man is a 2016 dramedy written and directed by Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan. The film has become infamous for being one of the most bizarre movies made in years. Audience members at the Sundance film festival famously left the theater because it was too strange.

Hank is stranded on an island and about to commit suicide when he spots a washed up body on the beach. He takes the corpse and discovers that it can do many unexplained, magical things, like farting to propel itself across the ocean. The corpse eventually regains some consciousness and begins speaking to Hank, referring to himself as Manny, asking him about life and civilization. As Hank carries Manny along for the surprising amount of practical applications he has, Hank explains things to him about life and society.

The setup is admittedly strange, but delightfully original. It's not too often you get a fresh, new idea out of Hollywood and it's just too bad that hardly anybody went to see this one.