Showing posts from 2017

Zodiac Review

Zodiac is a 2007 crime thriller written by James Vanderbilt and directed by David Fincher. The film is based off the real life account of Robert Graysmith, a newspaper cartoonist who independently attempted to solve the Zodiac murders.

The story is focused on the infamous unsolved Zodiac murders that occurred between the 60s and 70s in California. In particular, it focuses on two characters obsessed with the investigation: Graysmith, our previously mentioned cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Dave Toschi, a homicide detective (Mark Ruffalo).

The pacing for the movie is a bit weird. Since the actual events of the Zodiac murders happened over a period of almost a decade there's a lot of time jumping to get get to certain, important events in the process of the investigation. This results in the movie not really feeling like it has a proper structure. I mean, it has a beginning, middle and end, but the the middle is entirely comprised of following lead after lead of the case which…

Don't Breathe Review

Don't Breathe is a 2016 horror thriller written by Fede Álvarez/Rodo Sayagues and also directed by Fede Álvarez. The film was one of the most talked about films of last year and garnered a large amount of critical praise.

A group of poor Detroit kids make a living for themselves by robbing the houses of wealthier people in order to raise enough money to move out of the city. At long last, they find a mark that might allow them to do that: the house of an old blind man who has a large amount of cash stashed inside his house and since he's blind they could hypothetically sneak around the house with him inside without him knowing they're even there. The problem is that this man is a retired war veteran whose knowledge of the layout of his house and expert combat training make him a dangerous threat to the would be robbers. Now, they just need to survive the night and get the hell out of the guy's house.

The set up is ingenious. It's the kind of thing Hitchcock hi…

Matchstick Men Review

Matchstick Men is a 2003 caper drama written by Nicholas and Ted Griffin and directed by Ridley Scott. For the first time I have nothing interesting to say about this one. It wasn't nominated for any major awards, it wasn't culturally influential in any way. It was critically praised, but what Ridley Scott film isn't? It just kind of came and went like an inconsequential fart on a windy day.

Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage) is an OCD conman whose life is interrupted by the appearance of his previously unknown daughter Angela (Alison Lohman). Desperate to bond with her, he invites her to help with his latest scheme involving swindling thousands of dollars off of a rich businessman.

When you hear this set up, you might think that this is some kind of quirky crime comedy/ father-daughter bonding film. That's what I thought going into it, at least. However, without giving too much away, that's the film's ingenious trick. Making you think it's one thing and making…

Things Film Nerds Like That I Don't

If the world of cinema entertainment was a high school cafeteria I wouldn't be allowed at the cool kids table, where everybody is gathered around a Quentin Tarantino shrine chanting lines from The Departed. This is mostly because I don't like a lot of things that the general film nerd inteligencia seems to be obsessed with. It's not that I don't understand how somebody could like these things (well with a few exceptions at least), it's just that I myself don't find them very enjoyable for various reasons. My only hope for listing these reasons and explaining why is that you might find this interesting and hopefully I can find out that I'm not alone in my dislike of what many film nerds consider to be the holy grails of cinema. Mind you, this will also include some TV shows because more often than not a fondness for film goes hand in hand with a fondness for television. You may not agree with me, but this isn't your list.

Quentin Tarantino (except Pulp Fi…

Wind River Review

Wind River is a 2017 investigative crime drama written and directed by Taylor Sheridan with his big screen directorial debut. Sheridan previously wrote both the excellent Sicario from 2015 and the critically acclaimed Best Picture nominee Hell or High Water from last year.

In the impoverished Indian Reservation of Wind River Wyoming, Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is called into hunt and kill a family of mountain lions that have been eating the residents' livestock. However, during his tracking expedition he discovers the dead body of a Native girl miles away from any from any sign of civilization in the freezing cold woods. Because this reflects the similarly mysterious death of his daughter, Lambert joins the posse which includes an inexperienced FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) in order to hunt down the killer and get some long overdue closure for the unavenged death of his daughter.

The themes of the film are interesting, but bleak as hell. I like that one…

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…