Monday, 17 December 2012

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music, 1965
Directed by Robert Wise
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: Darling, Doctor Zhivago, Ship of Fools, A Thousand Clowns

Set in the "last Golden Days" of the 1930's in Austria, Maria is a troublesome young woman, attempting to become a nun, but her fellow nuns aren't her biggest fans. She's too outspoken, adventurous and she sings too much. So the head nun, Mother Abbess, decides to assign Maria the task of becoming a governess to the 7 children of Georg Von Trapp, a Navy captain who is a single parent and has written to the abbey for someone to look after his children. Maria is hesitant at first but decides to go since this must be the Lord's will. What she finds there breaks her heart. The children are treated as though they are on a naval ship, called by whistles, are on strict schedules with no time to play. Meanwhile, the children have been through several governess's, having played pranks on them all, trying to get their fathers attention. But Maria is determined to give the children what they never get from their father, laughter, fun and playtime, while Captain Von Trapp goes away to Vienna to meet a lady he's courting. And during that time, and when the Captain returns, everything changes. 

The Sound of Music is one of the most iconic and beloved musicals of all-time. It was a box-office smash when it was released and replaced Gone With the Wind as the highest grossing film. Adjusting to prices now, it is the 3rd highest grossing film of all time, right behind Gone with the Wind and Star Wars. While the Sound of Music had been a Broadway Musical before a film, the film added much popularity to the musical, and helped make Julie Andrews a huge star. 

Like Oliver!, this is a film I grew up on. And again, like Oliver!, we never really watched the whole thing, because it was so long, and both got so serious at the end that it bored me when I was younger. But The Sound of Music is a movie I couldn't say too many negative things about. Sure, it's not a brilliant, deep, or even accurate story. But it has so many iconic songs, and scenes, and it really is a nice family movie. And I'm definitely not adverse to family movies (much less ones that become classics) winning Best Picture. 

This film is a very beautiful film. The Austrian scenery is gorgeous, the set design and costumes are lovely, and overall it is a beautiful looking film. The child actors are really very good, and adorably cute. Julie Andrews was fantastic as Maria, and Christopher Plummer was great as Captain Von Trapp. 

Overall, this is a film I'll continue to like very much. Its a nice movie, with a nice ending. Predictable, yes, but an adorable film with great music altogether. 

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Screenplay- 7.5/10 
Visuals- 8.5/10 
Music- 9.5/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 8/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8/10 
Overall Package- 7.5/10     

Total: 79.5/100

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy, 1969
Directed by John Schlesinger
Nominated for 7 Oscars, Won 3
Up against: Anne of the Thousand Days, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hello Dolly!, Z

Joe Buck has left his life in Texas behind and come to New York City to become a "hustler", a freelance sex stud. But things are harder than he'd imagine it to be. The streets are meaner, and Joe has his demons to fight. But then he meets Ratso, a down-and-out crook but outcast. Ratso and Joe form an unlikely friendship, and end up both needing each other if they are to survive life in New York City. Especially since Ratso's health isn't very good and Joe is a naive country boy.

Midnight Cowboy's claim to fame is that it is the only Best Picture winner to be rated X. While it has since been bumped down to an R rating, it was very interesting that it won. It was also released a year after the Hays Code (a code set out by MPAA of what was appropriate and not appropriate to be in films). It was also a slightly controversial film. It contained scenes of homosexuality, and a lot of sex and nudity. Interestingly, the film that won the year before was Oliver!, a movie was a G rating. Shows how different movies are that the Academy awards Best Picture.

This film was definitely not a favourite Best Picture winner of mine. While I adore Dustin Hoffman, and he was really very good in this film, I found the picture rather dull. Sure, it was sad, and Joe was wildly messed up, but I found it a bit of a bore most of the time. The story was slow-moving, and while the acting was good, it wasn't my cup of tea.

It was definitely a well made film. It looked great. Hoffman and Voight made a good team and had great chemistry, and the costumes were good. I can appreciate the movie for that, but, similar to this years Lincoln, it just wasn't the movie for me.

While they gave Joe a very troubled past, and made Ratso a mysterious person, someone we never truly get to know or understand, they seemed a little flat to me. The constant flashbacks at the beginning of Joe's life, and his visions of what he wished he could do in certain situations were a little much. Though I guess the flashbacks at Joe's worst memory was very meaningful to the story and added a lot.

While this film is remembered as the X-rated film that won Best Picture, I feel like there wasn't much more to it. It was unnecessarily explicit, and was very slow moving.

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7.5/10 
Screenplay- 7.5/10 
Visuals- 8/10 

Music- 7/10 Emotional Connection- 6/10 
Entertainment- 6/10 
Rewatchability- 3/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 6/10 

Overall Package- 7/10     
Total: 66/100

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Life of Pi

Life of Pi, 2012
Directed by Ang Lee

Life of Pi is that book, up here in Canada, that you read in high school. Or at least in my high school you did. I remember my friends constantly complaining about this book, and how it's about a boy named Pi and he's on a raft with a hyena, zebra, Orangutan , and a tiger named Richard Parker. I also heard about how it was boring, and they were over-analyzing it way too much. This was back 5 years ago. Since then, when I was seeing what all movies were coming out this year, I heard once again about Life of Pi. My boyfriend, his brother and father really enjoyed the book, and since I was aiming to read a lot of the books that were to become films this year (I read Silver Linings Playbook, Anna Karenina, The Hobbit), I decided to pick up Life of Pi.

Life of Pi tells the story about a young boy named Pi. He was raised in India by his family. His family owned a zoo, and Pi loved the animals. He also loved religion, and he finds himself practicing Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism. He is chastized for following several religions, people telling him that you "if you believe in everything, you believe in nothing". But Pi stuck to his love for God (in whichever religion that happened to be in). When Pi is older, times are hard for his family and the zoo. They end up packing up themselves and the animals so they can move to Winnipeg, Canada and start a new life, and sell of the animals in North America, where they will go for more money. They head off on a large boat, a Japanese boat, and head for Canada. But along the way, the ship sinks. And it's only survivors are Pi, and a few of the animals, stuck in the life raft. And soon, it's only Pi, and the tiger he's been afraid of since he was a child, Richard Parker.

I was so skeptical when I heard this movie was coming out, and while I was reading the book. And I was even more skeptical when I heard it would be released in 3D. So many movies are coming out where 3D is unnecessary (Twilight, etc). And after I finished the book, I didn't  really know how they'd do it to make it that interesting. And then the trailer came out not too long after, and all of a sudden, I knew it would be a movie to watch out for. It looked incredible.

And indeed, upon seeing the movie in theatres last weekend, it did indeed look incredible. There were several times during the film where I would just utter "wow" to myself because there were so many incredible scenes. Shots like Pi under the water after the ship has sank, and he see's the boat, the lights flickering and dying. Or just being on the raft, a shot of the raft from above, and the water is so still it reflects the morning sky so it looks like they're floating in the sky. So many trippy, yet incredible shots. And it was so interesting to see how packed out the theater was. Though when I thought about it, it wasn't surprising. I live in an area in Ontario where there's a very high population of Indian families, many of them immigrants (or at least the parents are). So needless to say, a movie about a boy raised in India, coming to Canada (and playing at a theater where we show Bollywood films, and the snack stand is offered in English and in another Indian language), it wasn't surprising the film was packed out.

And what I loved overall about the film, was that it felt like I was watching the book being literally translated to the screen. Sure, there were a few differences for sure, like Pi having a girlfriend, and the part with the whale, but overall, I have never seen a more closely adapted book-movie translation (or not that I can remember). Ang Lee stayed incredibly close to the source material, and the movie benefits so much from that. The book is chock full of religion, and I'm very happy that Lee kept it all in.

It was also a thinking mans movie. It makes you think about God, and the way we look at religion. And while Pi's point is that it doesn't matter what religion you practice, it's about loving God, and all religions bring you to God (which is something I don't quite agree with), but makes you think about where God fits in in this world. Many people dismiss him altogether. Or many people try to exclude him from things like movies, or from being upfront. And Life of Pi brought it front and center, which was very brave.

The acting by first time actor, Suraj Sharma, was very good. Nothing was incredibly overacted, nor could you tell that this was Sharma's first ever film. He was able to carry the film on his shoulders so well. He was wild and crazy as Pi, but also scared and heartbroken, yet hopeful. A very hard mix, but I found Sharma played it all very well.

And the graphics, of course, were incredible. The cinematography is just gorgeous, and this is one of those movies you really have to see on the big screen to really appreciate what it looks like. And of course, this movie is almost this year's Hugo in a way. An acclaimed director making their first dip into a family movie, and into 3D, both which are acclaimed movies, and the 3D is highly praised. While I wasn't a fan of the 3D in Hugo (I felt it was overdone and made everything look like an animated film almost), the 3D in this film really added to the movie, but didn't overly stand out. And of course, this will be the year's frontrunner for visual effects. My only complaint was that the animals acted a little too human, but, reaching the end of the movie and hearing it's conclusion, that may have been the point.

As for Oscar chances, I'd be upset if it wasn't up for Best Picture, though I don't expect it to win. It was a very well made film, and while I don't quite see Ang Lee sneaking in for Director, it wouldn't be a surprise if he did. It's a packed year for main actors, so I don't see Suraj Sharma making it in, but I can hope it'll make it in to adapted screenplay (up against Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln, and Les Mis). And of course, cinematography, art direction, visual effects, and I could see it sneaking in for Best Score. Overall, this is definitely the best family-oriented film of the year (it's the only movie this year that's getting awards attention and is only rated PG).

Overall, I was extremely satisfied with this film in a number of ways. It took chances, it did things differently, and it turned out incredibly well despite people claiming that this book is "unfilmable", which I had definitely agreed with at first until I saw the director Lee took with the film.


Saturday, 1 December 2012


Lincoln, 2012
Directed by Steven Spielburg

Lincoln tells the story of, well, Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, and the most well known (and loved) president. The film is set during 1865, as the Civil War is winding down. Lincoln is endeavoring to abolish slavery through passing a 16th amendment to the Constitution. However, he needs to do this before peace is reached in the Civil War before the Southern States would return and any slaves that had been freed may be re-enslaved, and the amendment would never pass. Should it pass, slavery would be banned in the United States and the Southern States So Lincoln must do everything he can to get enough votes for it to pass. However, having an early peace would mean saving hundreds of lives. So Lincoln must decide what is best for his country.

I'm just going to say this outright that I'm not an American, nor am I interested in history (much less American history at that). I'm a Canadian, and my country didn't exist during the time of the Civil War (though it became a country only 2 years after the Civil War). This movie was, obviously, very political-heavy. It was a lot, a lot of talk, and then some more talking. And while I'm not into history and I'm not American, it made it somewhat difficult to be overly interested in this film. Canada as a country has never had slavery, as before we were Canada we were a British colony and slavery was abolished roughly 60 years before it was in American. Not being someone who is into history, nor is into politics, much of the movie went over my head a little bit. After doing some research into the movie for this review (and talking to my fiancee about exactly what happened and why the amendment needed to pass before the end of the war) I came to appreciate a bit more of who Lincoln was as a person and a politician, how he was pressed against time to ban something that would never have passed had the Southern States been in the vote, and how, once they rejoined them as a country when peace was made, they would be forced to free their slaves. Clever guy, really. However the film didn't get me overly interested in history, and it felt a little too "rah-rah America" at some points for me as a Canadian to get into. (Yes I realize this movie is about America's most beloved-President, and about a turning point in American history, but you know what I mean. You can only take so much of "rah-rah" any country that isn't your own.)

Other than that, I could see how incredibly well made this film was. While I genuinely loved War Horse, Spielburg almost seemed to have listened to what the complaints that people had against War Horse and made sure none of it was in this movie. The movie was not nearly as nostalgic, sentimental, and was a lot more talk and intelligent than WH was. People are saying it's Spielburg's best movie in the last 10 years, and I have to agree. The acting was incredible, the sets and cinematography were amazing, and the script was well done.

Daniel Day-Lewis, a man who already holds 2 Oscars in his hands may need to grow an extra arm so he can hold his third. He was simply incredible as Lincoln. While we have no actual footage of Lincoln (obviously), he is exactly as what I would imagine Lincoln to be like. But Spielburg also made him human. There's something about Lincoln, a man who is an icon, that seems almost non-human in a way. He's just an icon. But Spielburg gave Lincoln a sense of humor, a love of storytelling, charm, wit, and had him throw his feet up on the table while he was busy reading whatever. Things like that made him seem like a real person and not just the iconic guy you see in history textbooks. Day-Lewis captured this man so perfectly and also made him believable and human.

Sally Field, also someone who holds 2 Oscars, was fabulous as Mary Todd. She was able to balance the "putting on a face" for the public, and having her emotions all over the floor as Lincoln's wife. And another man, Tommy Lee Jones (he only has one Oscar :P), as Thaddeus Stevens, a fervent abolitionist, and a member of the United States House of Representatives. Jones was a radical and gave Stevens mystery. While you knew he was very much in favor of racial equality, you never knew what he was going to do or say next. He gave a wonderful performance, as the sharp, witty and funny man who had a dark and serious side to him.

The supporting cast (made up of actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Spader and Tim Blake Nelson) was quite fine. While JGL had a much smaller part than I thought he would, it was interesting side note to the history of Lincoln. And Spader and Nelson's part was some good humor, them almost pushing Senators to vote of the Amendment, but conspicuously handing out folders on the topic and following after them shouting for them to vote. Between these parts, and the ending vote, I enjoyed them and were something I could follow.

Overall, the film was well made. It was well-crafted and paid a lot of attention to detail. However, while I thought the voting scene was quite fun and brilliant, there were so many little stories going on (Lincoln and his son, Lincoln and his wife, Lincoln and the vote, etc) nothing seemed to have a "big" moment or wrap-up. And while these were all very important story lines, I didn't quite feel the importance of any of them. The movie seemed to simply touch on many things, but never really fully developed a lot of the smaller story lines. Even though they showed a little bit of the result of the ending of slavery, it wasn't quite enough to make a big enough impact.

Then again, I feel like if you're not into history, and not an American it would be a little difficult to quite appreciate what happened in the film. You can appreciate Lincoln as a politician and him being clever, but if you don't quite know the story, it may be hard to appreciate how the events turned out in the States, especially since many country abolished slavery (such as Britain) before the United States.

As for Oscar chances, this film has about a lock in every category, from Best Picture (many say it has a good chance at winning), director, Actor (current front-runner), Actress, Supporting Actor, Screenplay, and most things within the art and tech categories, this has the potential to sweep the Oscars. However it has big competition from films like Argo (another favourite to win picture and director) and Les Miserables which also has the potential to sweep the awards in every category (including all 4 acting categories). It's definitely a big year, and Lincoln will be a big contender.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook, 2012
Directed by David O. Russell

Pat has just been released from a mental ward after spending 8 months there. A full grown man, Pat is sent to live with his parents under court orders, and set to take medication and go to therapy. While Pat is happy to be out, all he wants to do is see Nikki, his wife. But no one will talk about her, or let Pat see her. Pat has become an optimist, a true believer in "silver linings". So he tries to better himself, physically and intellectually for Nikki. But then he meets Tiffany, another girl with problems. And when she offers to deliver a letter to Nikki, Pat ends up making a deal with her, to dance with her at a local dance competition, something she's always wanted to do.

I read the book, by the same name, by Matthew Quick back in the winter in anticipation for this film. Having only read the summary of the film IMDB gave me, it sounded funny, and tracked down the book at my local library. And of course, it was such a phenomenal book. It was hilarious, and real, slightly cliche, but original at the same time! The only hindrance to reading a book and falling in love with it as that you'll expect the movie to be the book and sit through it being like "why did they change that? what was the point of that?"

Thus is kind of what happened upon seeing Silver Linings Playbook over the weekend. However, I will not talk too much about the pointless changes they made, the movie was still incredibly well done and well acted and funny.

I have never had a lot of hope in Bradley Cooper. He's never acted in anything to really give me much confidence in him as a serious actor. When I saw he was cast in SLP, I was a little "meh" about it, but got over it. Having now seen the movie, I'll say for the first time something I didn't think I'd say: "Bradley Cooper really impressed me in this movie!" He really captured Pat so well. He gave him the right sensitivity, but balanced with enough wit and humor to make him real. His emotional scenes, mostly the ones with him having breakdowns and slowly descending into hysteria, where wonderfully done. I'm really impressed with him!

Also, Jennifer Lawrence was not someone who I'd have cast. Tiffany is supposed to be in her 30s in the book, and supposed to be (if I remember correctly) Veronica's older sister, not younger. However, upon seeing her acting in this film, it's so clear why Lawrence was cast. She really captured Tiffany. Tiffany could've easily been some sort of cliche character with not a lot of depth, but Jennifer Lawrence was able to give her depth and humor, but also that we were able to sympathize for her. Additionally, I had been nervous that the age difference between Lawrence and Cooper (15 years difference, by the way) would be really weird. But Cooper was able to seem much younger (I already didn't believe he was 37 when I just googled his age), and Lawrence seemed much older than her mere 22 years.

I could easily keep going on the acting in this film. Robert De Niro gave Pat's father depth, and played him so well. Jacki Weaver was also great and was a nice addition to the cast.

Overall, the movie was well made, the script was well written and it was cute, quirky and funny. It has bits for everyone. It has romance for rom-com fans, Jennifer Lawrence (for Hunger Games fans, and  for the guys), Bradley Cooper, football, dancing, and humor. It's an unconventional romantic comedy that David O. Russell only could've done.

While I need a second viewing to really believe in this film as a film, and not keep thinking about "why?" when they changed things from the book, it was a really great movie.

Jennifer Lawrence will definitely be big competition for Leading Actress, and seems to be the current front runner. Robert De Niro is also expected to make it into the top 5. While I'd love to see Bradley Cooper get some love for his role as Pat, we'll see whether this will happen. This film is almost gauranteed to make the Best Picture Nominations, having won the People's Choice Award at TIFF. Will also probably crack into the Adapted Screenplay nominations and could swipe into Director, anything else is really up in the air.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom, 2012
Directed by Wes Anderson

Again, it's been a while since I've posted! I watched this movie twice last week but was thrown up from writing this review until now because I got engaged over the weekend! Woohoo! I'd say thats a pretty legit excuse not to write up a review right away! Anyway, here is the review for Moonrise Kingdom!

Moonrise Kingdom is the story of a young girl and a young boy who fall in love and, hating the lives they have at home (or at khaki scouts in Sam's case), run away together, and the small island town scrambles to try and find them, throwing everything topsy-turvy.

Moonrise Kingdom is a quirk of a movie. While I had heard of it before, most of what I knew was that all the hipsters on their blogs and tumblr dressed up as Sam and Suzy for Halloween. And that all the gifs on tumblr told me was that Sam says "I love you but you don't know what you're talking about" to Suzy. And something about them being "married".

Overall, I was expecting something extremely quirky and hipster. Which is more or less what I got.

However, I found the movie extremely endearing, and extraordinarily cute. Sam Shakusky is an adorable little boy, Suzy such a pretty girl. Scout Master Ward was hilarious, and Bruce Willis's character was so un-Bruce Willis. Yes, the movie was highly quirky and weird, but it was my kind of humour and stuff I really appreciate. Dopey kind of humor.

This movie was also quite well acted. The boy playing Sam Shakusky was really great. And of course with the star-studded adult cast, you can't go wrong.

And what I appreciate is that Wes Anderson gave the two young kids depth, and problems. Suzy is being thought of as "a very troubled child" by her parents, lashes out at kids at school, and hates her parents. Sometimes she steals library books to make her feel better. Sam's parents died a long time ago so he's been in and out with foster homes, but never really fitting in with anybody. The movie was not simply artificial and shallow, but most of the characters had problems and they had a bit of depth to them, which is what makes this movie so good.

Upon first watch of this, I wasn't a huge fan. I found it a little dull, and not quite what I was expecting (though I wasn't sure what to expect either). I picked up the movie a second time 2 days later and watched it with my mum, and found I enjoyed it a lot more, knowing what was coming and what to expect.

While Moonrise Kingdom is a charming film, I don't see the potential of Best Picture in it. If it were nominated I'd probably do a fist pump and laugh a lot cause such a quirky hipster movie that not everyone likes is up, but I just don't see that happening. It's biggest category will be in Original Screenplay, in which I think this has a good chance of not only being nominated, but I wouldn't be surprised if it won (though does have the strong competition of Django Unchained).


Sunday, 21 October 2012


Argo, 2012
Directed by Ben Affleck

Argo is a fake movie. No, the movie I went and watched in the theatres wasn't fake, but it was what was used to get 6 Americans out of Iran without being killed, in a time where Americans were being held hostage.

In 1979, the American embassy in Tehran, Iran was stormed by Iranian revolutionaries, and everyone inside was taken hostage by the country. 6 managed to escape and found refuge in the Canadian ambassadors house. While the world watches, the American government and CIA realize they need to find a way to get these 6 Americans out before the Iranians discover they have 6 missing people. Enter Tony Mendez. With only bad ideas floating around, Tony comes up with something crazy. He and the 6 Americans will pose as a Canadian film crew looking to film a sci-fi movie in Iran, visiting on a location scout. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Tony needs to make sure this is legit. He needs a script, he needs producers, a budget, actors, posters, anything to show that this is real. He needs press. But when he arrives in Iran to get the 6 out, he has to ask himself the age old question, "is this so crazy it just might work?" because the answer to that is life or death.

Ben Affleck has been in the business a long time. His only Academy Award nomination, was also his only win, for his writing on Good Will Hunting, with Matt Damon, back in 1997. For the most part though, Affleck was just a mediocre actor, picking several awful movies, and from time to time choosing very good ones. However, when Affleck released his directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone in 2007, it received instant acclaim. His follow up in 2010, The Town, was equally acclaimed and just missed out on a Best Picture nod that year. His third effort, the film I'm now here to review, is said to be his best picture to date.

Affleck both directs and stars in this movie. What I really enjoyed about this movie was the balance between humour, and tension. This film felt very real. The humor didn't feel out of place or forced. And while some of the tense moments were a little dramatized, it wasn't an overt amount. For a serious film, it was really quite witty and funny. The scenes with Tony in Hollywood with his 2 producers (both in on his ploy), were really quite fun and funny, but switching back to scenes in Iran, it's very serious, and tense. And this was a really nice balance between the two. It was very human, and so many of the situations and reactions of all the characters didn't feel overly scripted.

Additionally, I felt Affleck and his crew did the look of the movie quite well. It was the cheesy 70's, with the massive glasses, horrible hair and mustaches, and most people looked like they fit right in, without it being more cheesy than the 70s already were. The mix of real footage from this time, and the modern footage was good, especially the beginning. And it was also pretty fun having the vintage Time-Warner logo at the very beginning.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this film. I was able to go with my boyfriend, and 3 other friends, and was happy that all of them really enjoyed it too.

Oscar chances? I'd say it's a definite lock for a Best Picture nod, and most likely a Directing and Screenplay nods as well. It has its best chance in acting for Alan Arkin, though he's nowhere near a lock right now. Going into this movie, it was my predicted winner for Best Picture, mostly based on the buzz from TIFF, and from me being a little disappointed by the Lincoln trailer (my previous, extra early, winner pick). Coming out of the movie, I'd say I'd be very happy if this film took the top prize. It's always nice when a film that the general audience has heard of and seen is picked. It was a really enjoyable film, a great and interesting true story, and was really well made. I'm definitely going to be rooting for this movie this season, thus far!

Acting- 7.5/10 
Directing- 8/10 
Screenplay- 8.5/10 
Visuals- 8/10 

Music- 7.5/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 8/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8.5/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     

Total: 79/100

Friday, 19 October 2012


Ben-Hur (1959)
Directed by William Wyler
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 11
Up Against: Anatomy of a Murder, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Nun's Story, and Room at the Top

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost two months since I've reviewed a film! I'm so sorry for the delay in everything! But I've been pretty busy. I took a trip out to Los Angeles right after I wrote my last review, and from there I've been working funny hours that lets me only watch movies on Saturday and Sundays, and those days I'm usually busy being with friends (ok, my boyfriend), and just relaxing, not feeling like watching a 3 hour epic. But I thought I'd hunker down and get this movie done! That, and it finally, finally arrived for me at the library and I couldn't renew it since it's so popular. But I promise I'll be more solid on my reviews. My review for Argo (which I'm seeing tomorrow) will be up over the weekend sometime, and I'll get around the Sound of Music soon!

But for now,

Judah Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince living in Jerusalem during the time of Christ. His old friend Messala, an officer in the Roman legions, returns home, they find their varying views on religion and politics seperate them. After a disagreement, the Roman legion rides through town, with their new governor. Judah and his sister watch from a balconey above, and stones get loose and fall upon the parade. Messala and the rest of the legion barracade the house, and Messala, still angered by their disagreement, has no mercy upon Judah, his sister, and his mother, throwing them into jail. After Judah escapes and confronts Messala, he is sent to be rower in the galleys of a war ship, while his sister and mother stay in jail. Judah swears he will come back for his family, and for revenge on Messala. And he comes back in a way no one imagined.

Ben-Hur is that movie that's always on TV around Easter time, and seems to be on the entire day. Sitting at 222 minutes (or 3 hours and 43 minutes for those of you counting), it's considered a great historical epic. At the time, it was the most expensive film ever made, costing somewhere around $15 million.

A remake of a silent film, based off the 1880 book by Lew Wallace, it took several years until it finally went into production. With several legends turning down the role of Judah (including Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, and Kirk Douglas, after finally settling on Charlton Heston.)

Honestly, before I started watching the film, I expected it to be another Lawrence of Arabia. Overrated, but mostly long, boring, and slow-moving. But I was pleasantly surprised by how fast-paced the movie was. No overlong scenes of scenery, or of someone walking (or riding a camel).

In all honesty, I really really enjoyed this movie! The cinematography was beautiful, the costumes were great, and Charlton Heston was really, really great. But most of all, it was fast moving, it was a "rags-to-riches" story. (Or actually, more of a riches-to-rags-to-riches revenge movie..). Being a Christian, I really have an appreciation for Biblical epics (even if this wasn't necessarily Biblical). Most people, I would assume, just dismiss this movie, and it's whole storyline with Jesus and the Crucifixion.

But, obviously, the winning prize, the crown jewel, of the film was the chariot race. Not only was it exciting to watch, but it was impeccably filmed. The parade with all the chariots, around the ring, was honestly so spectacular, how trained the horses were, the cinematography, the music, etc. But seriously, it was really the best part of the movie, and is well deserved as being thought of as a influential and iconic moment in cinema.

Overall, I don't have all that many complaints about the film really. Well-acted, looked amazing, etc. It truly did deserve every Oscar it won, and deserves to be remembered as one of the 3 films that won the most Oscars. And it deserves to be remembered as a classic film.

Acting- 19/20
Directing- 19/20
Writing- 18.5/20
Personal Enjoyment- 18.5/20

Overall Package -19/20

Total: 94/100

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Ordinary People

Ordinary People, 1980
Directed by Robert Redford
Nominated for 6 Oscars, Won 4
Up Against: Coal Miner's Daughter, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, Tess

Ordinary People stars Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton is a story about depression, and grief. After the accidental death of the eldest son, Buck, the rest of the family deals with it in different ways. Conrad, the son, blames himself and is riddled with immense depression, and we see him a month after he gets out of the hospital for trying to "off himself". Calvin, the father, is constantly trying to make sure Conrad is okay, and trying to be honest, but not worry people, at the same time. And Beth, the mother, doesn't talk about it, and refuses to talk about it, and has distanced herself from her other son, and even her husband. 

This was the first time I'd seen Mary Tyler Moore in a dramatic role. The only times I've really seen her is when I watched the Mary Tyler Moore show with my grandmother. So it was quite interesting to see her a bit older, and a lot more dramatic. Additionally, this is the first film I'd seen without Donald Sutherland having white hair or just young in general. Both of these 2, playing Calvin and Beth, were truly fantastic. However, Mary Tyler recieved a nomination, yet Donald Sutherland did not, which quite astounds me. If I had had my way, it would've been the other way around as I thought Sutherland stole the film when Timothy Hutton wasn't on screen. 

And speaking of Timothy Hutton, I thought he really was fantastic. He really embodied the guilt and anger that comes with depression and with grief of losing someone. He really made you feel for the character and brought Conrad to life. He had ups and downs and was thrown off easily. He was a well-written character, and helped me to understand what someone in his circumstances might be going through. 

The family relations in this film, also, were done well. They were intricate but also relatable. All were strained, and you could see why, yet you hurt that they were like this. Beth was too cold to Conrad, Conrad was distancing himself from his family, and all his father did was care about him, much to his wife's displeasure and accusations that his son is "controlling him". 

I thought this film was a good show of depression and grief, and the way a family deals with it (or doesn't). And while I didn't think it was quite worthy to be the best picture of the year, I'd love to see more films like this win. Stories about, well, ordinary people, and circumstances that any one of us could go through. Enough biopics, enough period pieces, and stories about extraordinary circumstances, I'd like to see more movies like last years, the Descendants win. A story that could happen to any of us. Movies like Annie Hall, Kramer vs Kramer or Terms of Endearment. The last movie that won like this was 1999's American Beauty. 

But I digress. This film was well made, and definitely well acted (a little bitter about the Donald Sutherland snub, especially since he was Golden Globe nominated for it), but it was a good film. I liked it as a movie, but it was just okay as a Best Picture. But I like the variety of films that win (war movies, gangster movies, period pieces, biopics, and ''ordinary people" movies), so I'm not going to complain too loudly because it was a good film. 

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7.5/10 
Screenplay- 8/10 
Visuals- 7/10 

Music- 4/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 7/10 
Rewatchability- 6/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     

Total: 70/100

Thursday, 23 August 2012

On The Waterfront

On The Waterfront, 1954
Directed by Elia Kazan
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 8
Up Against: The Caine Mutiny, The Country Girl, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain

Terry Malloy used to be a prize fighter, but now he raises pigeons and works on the docks, running errands for the corrupt union boss, Johnny Friendly. One of the errands Terry has to run is telling a man named Joey that he found one of his missing pigeons and that he's put it on the roof for him to come and get, Terry knowing there will be men up there waiting for him to accost him. What he didn't know was that they were going to toss him from the roof of the building, killing him. Terry immediatly feels guilty, and that guilt builds when he starts falling in love with Joey's sister, Edie, while she tries to find out who killed her brother. While the two start falling in love, Terry realizes who much better life can be, and it's not the horrible place with all indecent people he's thought it has been. When Johnny Friendly continues to kill people, and Father Barry, a local priest, challenged by Edie that she "never heard of a saint hiding in a church", and to go out there and see what's going on, tries to find information on who killed Joey. Terry starts realizing he needs to tell the truth, and he needs to bring down Johnny Friendly in the process. 

This movie came highly recommended to me by my boyfriends father. While he's more of a literature man instead of a movie man, I thought I'd take his recommendation seriously since he also spoke extremely highly of Annie Hall. So I put a hold on it at the library (subsequently it had a lot of other holds and it's taken me months to get it). But I popped the movie in just a day after getting it, and found myself enthralled by the story and by Marlon Brando. 

What, I thought, could've easily been a pretty 2D character, Brando turned it into a subtle performance, where we can clearly see Terry start to become more and more guilty and slowly realizing his philosophy of life isn't actually true. Brando was classy, with just enough tough guy to balance it out, that you knew he didn't realize believe what he said he did, and wasn't the bad guy that Edi'e father made him out to be. He was searching for something more, and Edie showed him what it was. 

The movie was well-told, and had many chilling and heartbreaking moments, including when Father Barry is praying over Kayo Dugan's body, and then starts to talk to the dozens of men around him about honesty, and cruxification, and some of the men start throwing food at him. And when Terry, beaten to a pulp, gets up and walks through all the men to enter the docks, after they declare they will only work if Terry is given work. 

The film had just enough amount of romance (doesn't Edie look like a mix of Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowski? Or at least I thought so, it was pretty uncanny) without making it too mushy. And had the right amount of action/crime in it. 

Overall, I thought this film was really well done; well acted, well directed, well written. It really deserves all the wins it received (including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Writing, Editing and Art Direction), and deserves to be revered as a classic. Yes, I really enjoyed this film. 

Acting- 20/20
Directing- 19/20
Writing- 20/20
Personal Enjoyment- 19/20

Overall Package -19.5/20

Total: 97.5/100

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975
Directed by Milos Forman
Nominated for 9 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Nashville

When R.P McMurphy arrives at this mental institution, things start changing around there. While many believe McMurphy is faking his mental inability so he doesn't have to work, he starts to wreak havoc in the ward, gathering the patients together and slowly earning their trust, and getting them to rebel against the head nurse, Nurse Ratched, who's a little more than oppressive to the patients. 

This film was just all Jack Nicholson for me. I found the story to be a little bland, but found Nicholson very captivating. He was totally inside the character of McMurphy and you could really tell. He was crazy, yet you pitied him, and wondered why he was there at all, and then sometimes you knew exactly why. He's a complicated character and you wondered how it was all going to end. Would they release him? What would happen if they didn't? But the ending we get is truly disturbing, and it really made the movie for me. 

Along with Nicholson, we had some fun cameos from Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd. They played some of the ward's patients and they did a fantastic job, as did all the other extras. They were crazy, they were strange, and they either followed McMurphy blindly or didn't bother with him. 

And then there's Louise Fletcher who plays Nurse Ratched, and won Best Actress. She was so convincing as the dictator of the ward, and oppressor of the patients. She was mean, and cold, and heartless. And Louise Fletcher just nailed her. 

The mix of these characters made for an interesting story of uprising, and of the ward's ways of dealing with patients who don't obey the rules. 

While I wouldn't go so far to say as I loved this film, I would say it was definitely a performance film rather than a story film. While I felt the story was a bit bland, all the performances in the film made up for that. It was extremely well acted, giving Jack Nicholson his very first Oscar (who would go on to be the most nominated actor, and to win 2 other Oscars). This film was good, and definitely deserved the Best Picture win from the acting alone. But would I watch it again? Probably not. 

Acting- 9/10 
Directing- 8.5/10 
Screenplay- 8.5/10 
Visuals- 8/10 

Music- 7/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 

Overall Package- 8/10     

Total: 77/100

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Sting

The Sting, 1973
Directed by George Roy Hill
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Won 7
Up Against: American Graffiti, Cries & Whispers, the Exorcist, A Touch of Class

The Sting is a story about con artists in the 1930's Depression. Johnny Hooker and his partners Luther and Joe con $11,000 off a man on the streets, not thinking they'd get that rich. Luther announces his retirement and suggests and tells Hooker about a friend he has, Henry Gondorff, saying he should go meet him and learn "the big con". However, things don't go according to plan. The man they conned money off was a numbers racket courier for a famous crime boss named Lonnegan. When a corrupt police officer confronts Hooker and demands part of the pay cut (Hooker had already spent it all), pays in counterfeit bills. Meanwhile, Lonnegan's men murder Luther and Hooker must now flee, and heads to Chicago to meet Gondorff. While Gondorff was a once-great, he's now in hiding and is a bit nervous to take on Lonnegan. But he comes around and the two set up the "big con" for Lonnegan.

The film was an immediate success. It gained positive critic reviews, and was a box office smash. It was also the second pairing of George Roy Hill directed Robert Redford and Paul Newman since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It was released Christmas Day in 1973, and went on to win a lot of Academy Awards that year, including Picture, Director, Screenplay.

I really enjoyed this film. This is the first Robert Redford film I've seen, and also my first Paul Newman one (what a treat they both were!) and both were so great. They were great at the double acting (con men, pretending to be several different people, all innocent) and were real trouble-makers. But my favourite part of the entire film was the score. Compiled of mostly Scott Joplin's music composed in the early 1900's, and though not historically accurate for the time period (ragtime was no longer popular in the 30's), but was really really great. It fit the time so well, and was just so fun. It gave the film a bit of a lighter feel when darker music could've made the film more dramatic and sullen. It gave the film a spark quality, and really lit it up.

Additionally, the twists and turns the movie took were great. It really was a thinking movie, and it's so sad how little films like this are made any more. It was well thought out, entertaining, and had a few laughs that balanced the film out well.

Overall, the film was really good. It was a great showcase for Paul Newman and Robert Redford (who looks so much like Brad Pitt. Anyone else notice that?). It was a clever, kind of fun Best Picture as opposed to a lot of the more dramatic, serious, depressing ones.

Acting- 9/10 
Directing- 8/10 
Screenplay- 9/10 
Visuals- 9/10 

Music- 10/10 
Emotional Connection- 8/10 
Entertainment- 9/10 
Rewatchability- 8/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 9/10 

Overall Package- 8.5/10     

Total: 87.5/100

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises, 2012
Directed by Christopher Nolan

I remember the summer of 2008. The Dark Knight was released, and there was a massive buzz around it. Even working at summer camp with hardly any link to the outside world, we all knew The Dark Knight was the movie to see. And though I was never a superhero fan (I generally enjoyed the first two Spiderman films, and had watched Batman Begins once), I was excited to see it. I got home from camp, and saw it with my father right away.

And that's how I came to love and appreciate the Batman trilogy. After that, I was more interested  in Batman Begins (a film which I still really really love), and of course, loved The Dark Knight, and rooted so hard for Heath Ledger at the Oscars, and will defend to this day that he still would've won even if he hadn't have died.

Superhero movies were never really things I could get into. They were superhuman people, "doing the right thing" and "saving the world" from "evil". They were all kind of the same, and therefore uninteresting. But Christopher Nolan didn't make superhero movies when he made Batman, they're more intellectual and psychological than that. They're complex and political, character driven, and dark. And this most recent addition is the most complex, character-driven and darkest yet. While Captain America, Spiderman, etc weren't that light of movies, The Dark Knight Rises makes them look incredibly simple and fluffy.

This film is set 8 years after after the events of the Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne is a recluse, mourning what the Joker did to Gotham, and having let Batman take the fall for Harvey Dents murder, leaving the people of Gotham to remember him as a good person. Meanwhile, Gotham is in good hands. Organized crime has been swept up, things are looking good, and it's a time of peace for Gotham. But as Selina Kyle says, a cat burglar who finds the attention of Bruce Wayne, "a storm is coming". And come it does. Bane is a terrorist, intent on taking over Gotham, and while young John Blake, a young curious cop, is intent on handling him, alongside Jim Gordon, things don't go as planned. And it seems Gotham once again needs Batman.

As stated, I'm a Batman fan. No, not in the way of having seen all the old Batman films, but I really enjoy Nolan's trilogy because it's not that "superhero" and it's complex, and intelligent. There are so many mindless action movies out there (think Battleship, Transformers, etc) that it really becomes exciting when something so intelligent and complex like The Dark Knight Rises comes out. It's a brain movie, not one just for the eyes (though this one is particularly striking).

I'm not going to lie, this film is not as straight-forward as Batman Begins or the Dark Knight were, and there were a few times where I wasn't positive who everyone was, what they were about, and what was going on. Additionally, what ended up being the main problem (after like 1 1/2 hours), was a bomb and the race against its detonation. While I found this to be quite cliche (how many movies are there about this!?), and Nolan could've given Bane something way more original and he deserved more than that, it still made for an interesting watch, and with Christopher Nolan, you never really know where he's going to take you in this. Ever since he killed off Rachel Dawes, I've never really known what to expect from him. But nonetheless, it was slightly cliche, but it worked incredibly well for this film, and didn't come off as cliche while watching.

Additionally, there were several different things going on at all times, and it seemed Bruce Wayne/Batman were thrown in as an afterthought a few times. At the fore-front of this film we have Bane, played by Tom Hardy, with menacing mask and voice and brute strength. We have Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathway. I still laugh thinking of all the nay-sayers who were upset at Hathaway being cast as Catwoman. Hathaway was the star of the show, and gave the best performance of the cast. She was witty and sexy, and was totally awesome and was an awesome female addition at the cast, where the previous two films had been incredibly male dominated. It was nice to see a woman out there who wasn't Rachel, and who could fend for herself. And then we have John Blake, played the new hot-and-in demand star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. For a while the film almost feels like the John Blake show, him being a new and curious cop who's a big Batman believer. All three give great performances, and John Blake was a welcome new character who gave a different side to the police side when Jim Gordon wasn't available, and was the ultimate "good guy".

Normally, I don't find actions movies to be that "visually stunning" as some people would call them. Yes, there's good graphics and car chases, but I describe movies like 2005's Pride & Prejudice as visually stunning. But I'd toss it out there that The Dark Knight Rises is the best looking film in the trilogy. The cinematography was particularly gorgeous (all the scenes in the snow, gorgeous), the scenery was great and everything just looked so good.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Yes, there were a couple plot holes and things that got wrapped up really quickly, as well as there was a little too much going on at a few points that I found it a little tricky to follow, but that's what the second viewing is for (which will probably be next weekend). This movie had incredible expectations. And while my friends and I all knew we weren't going to get something better than The Dark Knight, I went in not expecting a whole lot from this film other than it was going to be awesome and intelligent, and that's exactly what I got. This was Nolan's opus of the three films. He was the conductor, and the composer, giving everyone different and complex parts, but weaving them all together effectively to make a beautiful movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and look forward to having a second viewing so I can completely grasp everything that happened, who everyone was, and pick up on more of the little things that happened that got lost in the wide-eyed viewing of the first round.

Will this film end up making a Best Picture run? While a movie like The Dark Knight deserved it, I'm less sure about this one, though wouldn't be too surprised to see it up there on Oscar morning. However, I'd say it's less likely, and fanboys shouldn't hold their breath, but we'll see in the coming months, I suppose. It has great shots within the technical aspects, and I'd love to see it up for Best Score, as Hans Zimmer always delivers.

Overall, a great film, and definitely this years best blockbuster by far. A worthy ending to the ending of one of the best and more beloved trilogys of all time. And if this entire film wasn't fantastic, the last few minutes (give or take 10 to 15) are the most shining moments and the very perfect wrap up. I wish I could share exactly what happened, but to me, Nolan wrapped things up in his own way, and did it perfectly. It's a perfect sequence, and is the shining moment of the film.

Acting- 8/10
Directing- 8.5/10
Screenplay- 8/10
Music - 9/10
"The look"- 9/10
Entertaining- 9.5/10
Emotional Connection- 9.5/10
Rewatchability- 9/10
Did I like It?- 9/10
"Total Package"**- 8/10 

Total: 87.5

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

In The Heat of the Night

In the Heat Of the Night, 1967
Directed by Norman Jewison
Nominated for 7 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

In The Heat of the Night is a part murder mystery, part story on racism. It stars Sydney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, an African-American homicide detective who finds himself in Sparta, Mississippi the night a man is murdered. He's asked by his commander back on the Philadelphia Police Force to stay and help uncover the killer. And while Tibbs has already been treated to racism (he's immediately plucked as a suspect by another policeman because he was black and was carrying a large sum of money in his wallet), he agrees to work alongside Gillespie, the head officer in town, after the widow of the victim is impressed with Tibbs clearing an innocent man on the murder charges when Gillespie arrested him with little evidence.

Tibbs goes on to clear several men of their names after being arrested with shaky evidence, and starts to earn the respect of Gillespie, despite the fact that he's annoyed Tibbs is taking over the investigation and knows more than he does.

This film came out in a time when racism in the south was still going on, and it ended up becoming a very big hit. It got excellent reviews all-around. The infamous slapping scene was pivotal and the lines, "they call me mr. tibbs" is a famous quote.

In all honesty, while I know this film is beloved, I wasn't the biggest fan. I thought it was a little dull, a little slow-moving, and not that interesting. Sure, Tibbs uncovering the whodunit was good, and it had a bit of a twist to it, but overall the process wasn't all that interesting. However, showing the racism in that small town was definitely effectual. It was interesting every time someone sneered about Tibbs being around, but when he mentions he's a police officer, he generally gets a little bit more respect. While it never really hit me how annoying racism probably was for blacks back then, this film really showed it. Tibbs was a hard-working guy, with a respectable career, making good money, and not dealing with as much racism in Philly. But come down south, everything is different. The smallest things, people sneer at you, don't want you in the room, and make racist comments like you're not even there. This was a good perspective that they brought out, even if I wasn't so crazy about the film overall.

Honestly, I felt the film was just alright. The acting wasn't amazing, the sets and costumes weren't that amazing, the story was just alright. It's interesting to see how much of the nominees for Best Picture I actually knew that year (I usually don't know many of them in years before 2000). However, this film was just alright, and surprises me a little bit that it won. However, given the time period and what was going on in America at the time, I guess it's not that surprising. It's a story on a black man and a white man working together, in a time when that didn't happen.

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7.5/10 
Screenplay- 7/10 
Visuals- 7/10 

Music- 7/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 7.5/10 
Rewatchability- 6/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     
Total: 72.5/100

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man, 2012
Directed by Marc Webb
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Rhys Ifans

We all know the story of Spiderman. Nerdy high school boy Peter Parker, bitten by radioactive spider, gains superpowers and becomes Spiderman. Best known in the movie forms that starred Tobey Macguire and Kirsten Dunst, in the form of 3 films.

Well, here we are in 2012, only 5 years since Spider-Man 3 came out. It's a "whole new origins story", now starring the critically acclaimed Andrew Garfield, and the new comedienne Emma Stone. While I remember being extremely skeptical when this "reboot" was announced, I slowly warmed to the idea when I saw the first trailer, and saw Andrew as Peter.

It's not secret that I have a huge celebrity crush on Andrew Garfield and love his acting. He was particularly phenomenal in Never Let Me Go, and I personally thought he deserved an acting nomination over Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. However, I digress.

While the trailer and commercials and posters have promised an origins story for Peter and his alter ego, I'd say that was a little more of a let down. There's wasn't too much origins, though it was more of a relationship/personal movie than an action one, which I respect.

I haven't watched any of the Spider-Man movies for a very long time, so I can't really remember how well they resemble each other. Obviously, there were various things that happened that also happened in the Raimi version, such as Uncle Ben's death, the idea of the responsibility to do the right thing should you have the power to do it and, obviously, getting bitten by a radioactive spider and developing his costume and persona.  However, these things had to happen, and they did it in a different way than the original Raimi versions did.

Peter's reaction to his gaining of superpowers was extremely well-done, I thought. It was done in a realistic way, a way that I could imagine myself reacting. Breaking everything, being very confused, and just trying to ignore they happened and move on. The sequence in the bathroom and in his bedroom after that was well done. Additionally, once Peter had finally officially suited up and was roaming the streets for his Uncle's killer, we got a smart-talking Spider-Man, which was very fun. He had some fantastic lines, and made the whole thing quite amusing without overdoing it too much.

While the sequences with Peter were very good, it takes quite a bit into the movie for the Lizard to finally appear. It's not until about halfway through (which is at least an hour in) that Dr. Curt Connors finally turns into the Lizard. And if there were any plot-holes that I could complain about (and there were a few), it'd be more with the Lizard than with Peter or Peter and Gwen. While some the fighting sequences looked amazing (possible Oscar attention for Visual Effects? I'd say it's very possible), there were too many times when the Lizard has him in his grips and doesn't really do anything to Peter. Sure, tell me that villains like to torture their victims or whatever, or the director tried to make it suspenseful, but I thought it was a bit lazy.

In fact, while I enjoyed the movie, I felt like the Lizard was kind of the last thing planned in the story, as though it was decided they were going to do a Spider-man movie, and would do Gwen Stacy and be all comic-book, and oh yeah we need a villain. The Lizard sound ok? While it was an okay villain, it felt like it was way less planned out that Peter's story was, and while I understand this movie was an 'origins' story, I would've liked the villain to make more sense.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. However, this is probably due to the fact that Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield were fantastic and I feel like I probably wouldn't have liked the movie as much if they weren't in it. Andrew Garfield is a solid actor and has done some good work thus far, and, I find, to be very under-appreciated. He gave a great performance in this film. Though he's about 29 years old, I thought he was able to strike that teenager attitude well. While he didn't exactly look 17 (I'd say he looked about 21, which isn't too bad for a high school movie if you really think about it), he captured the typical walk teen guys have, and had great chemistry with Emma Stone (duh), and really pulled off the cutesyness well. I just really like Andrew Garfield here, okay guys?

Overall, I enjoyed this reboot. It was fun, it was funny, quirky, cute, with some good action sequences. I'd even hazard to say it's been my favourite Superhero movie of the year thus far (okay, there's only been two, but I didn't like the Avengers, so there you have it.) though I know that'll change in a few weeks time when Batman is released.

(no, I didn't love it, and yes my favourite superhero movie of the year so far gets a 7)

Monday, 25 June 2012


Brave, 2012
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell

Brave is Pixar's first original non-sequel film since Up back in 2009. It's also Pixar's first female protagonist, and the first character from Pixar to be feature in the Disney Princess line. So it's a little bit of a first in many way.

I remember first seeing the trailer and realizing that it wasn't telling me very much about what was going to happen in the film (besides that Merida would "fight for my own hand!") so I came into the movie not really expecting anything at all, though I had heard the bears were pretty prominent. So, sitting down in the theatre I was expecting an pretty funny, predictable, mother-daughter movie. Which I got, but it was a lot more funny, a lot less predictable (though still predictable), and a lot of mother-daughter.

As you've all heard, Merida's hair is pretty much worth the price of admission. If you go only to see her hair, that's a pretty good reason. Her hair is beyond cool, especially in the scenes of her as a young girl. Additionally, her three younger brothers were infinitely hilarious, always causing mischief and are so adorable. Her father is hilarious and fun-loving too. However, the mother-daughter relationship is what guides this movie along. Merida is constantly exasperated at her mother, telling her a princess does this, a princess doesn't do that and Merida is frustrated to the max when 3 other clans arrive, with 3 suitors trying to win her hand. Merida does not want to get married. After shooting for her own hand at the archery competition, Merida's mother Elanor has had it. Her daughter is reckless and unladylike and embarassing. The two fight and Merida finds herself in a witches cottage, and with a spell to change her mother. But in a way that Merida doesn't expect.

The movie took a turn at this point which I didn't see coming, but is altogether interesting, though was a bit cheesy at first, but came into it's own and played it's part in the mother-daughter bonding thing really well. While it doesn't hit older audiences as much as the Toy Story movies did, Brave has some great lessons for young children about the importance of having a good relationship with your mother. The two of you may be at odds all the time, but you need to listen to each other if either of you want to get anywhere.

Additionally, the visuals and the score were completely amazing in this movie. While it probably would've been best to see it in 3D (which I didn't), it was still brilliantly gorgeous. And usually I'm not a big fan of Patrick Doyle, but I absolutely loved the score he did.

While many have said it doesn't have the brilliance of past Pixar movies, doesn't hit older audiences as well as younger ones, and plays it a little safe, I say that you shouldn't go into this movie expecting any of these things. They're all very true, but if you're expecting this movie not to be the next Finding Nemo, Toy Story or Up, you'll be vastly disappointed. However, this was something I expected, and knew from the beginning. It was a warrior princess movie which involved mothers, archery and bears, and the importance of listening to your parents. And while it doesn't have the things of what made Monsters Inc and the original Cars so good, Brave has it's own qualities to love about it. And that's how Brave should be viewed, a medium of it's own, not in comparison to other Pixar movies. Brave had some extremely hilarious moments, some mischevious little boys, some awesome red hair, cool Scottish accents, and a strong-willed young woman who learns about changing her fate. Brave is a story of its own. And while not brilliant, it was definitely worth watching, and will be worth watching again.

Overall, I liked the movie. It wasn't the worlds best animated movie, it was just good, and had a lot of laughs and adorableness coming from the three younger brothers, little Merida, Merida's hair, and the appearance of some very small cute bears. It was a fun movie, with awesome accents and nice to look at. We're not looking at a masterpiece here, but it's definitely a nice family movie, and great for fairytale fans. Does it have the chance to bring back Pixar to the Best Picture race? Honestly, I'd say no. While Brave was great, not everyone liked it enough, nor was it brilliant enough, I thought. It's definitely going to be a contender in Best Animated Feature, Best Score and Best Original Song.


Sunday, 24 June 2012


Marty, 1955
Directed by Delbert Mann
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 4
Up Against: Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Mister Roberts, Picnic and The Rose Tattoo

Marty is a unique film. The movie is based upon a "teleplay" also called Marty, and is one of only two films to win both the Palm d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, and Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Marty is the story of a 34-year old man named, well, Marty. He still lives with his mother. He comes from a big family, with many brothers and sister, and all of them are married. So Marty certainly feels pressure to find a girl. However as he himself puts it, "I'm a fat and ugly old man". When his cousin and his wife come over to convince Marty's mother to ask her sister to come live with her (she is making life very hard for Marty's cousins wife), his cousin says Marty should go to the Stardust ballroom as there are tons of "tomatoes" there. Marty gets upset when his mother tells him to go because he's been hurt by women dozens of times before, and has never found a girl there before, but would go just to make his mother happy, telling her the night would endure tons of heartache. But, of course, he meets a girl. She's come with a blind date who's not interested in her, and he tries to blow her off. Marty comforts her, and the two have a nice evening together. However, as the next day comes, it comes out most of the people he knows don't like her because she's not that attractive and Marty "could do better".

In this day and age, where we hear about Hollywood's obsession with marriage, love, sex, dating, we forget that there are tons of people who are "older" that haven't found love and gotten married. No, I'm not quite talking about George Clooney here. That's a different story. We see it all the time, even if we don't like to look or don't recognize it. Not everyone finds love, and that's something hard to deal with. People ignore that fact that some people just don't ever find love.

But the story of Marty is that he did find love. He found it in a girl that his friends said wasn't attractive and that Marty could do way better than her. There's a scene right near the end of the film, the day after Marty meets Clara, and he's sitting around the house with 3 friends. One of them is looking at a "girlie" magazine (if you know what I mean), and the others interrogating him about Clara. Whether they're jealous of Marty finding a girl while they're all still single, they try to convince him not to call her. They're surprised when Marty says he "didn't try anything" and that they just talked. One replied that she must've been a good talker since he looks to be about 40 years old. The other, still looking at his girlie magazine, starts saying that he wished he knew where he could find girls like these. And, for some reason, Marty buys into it. He doesn't call Clara like he said he would. Though eventually realizes she's someone who makes him happy.

I think that's a very interesting look, and is something that is so wrong with our society today. Just because a woman isn't like the girls in those "girlie" magazines (or well, other mediums, today) it means they aren't worth anything. Marty's friends hardly knew her, didn't really speak to her, they only saw her. And that's something that seems to be so wrong with society today. I could go on and on about the objectification of women, how so many men seemed to be so focused on physical beauty, and how that is probably why divorce rates are so high, but I'm sure you get the picture. Marty is a glimmering hope in cinema that tells the story about a man who finds a woman who makes him happy. She's nice, and funny, they had great laughs together and talked all night long. And just because she wasn't "pretty" didn't make her less of a woman in Marty's eyes, and that's something so valuable in him. What we can learn from Marty is that beauty is definitely not everything. Some of the most gorgeous people can also be the worlds worst people, the most unintelligent, and the most vain.

However, enough with the moral lessons on this movie (I could talk about it for so long, I think I'm starting to become an advocate for how woman are more than their bodies and their looks, and society is ruining itself by focusing on it). I found the movie to be quite short, and felt it could probably have gone on a little longer. It's the shortest running Best Picture winner at only 1hr and 30 minutes. Ernest Borgnine was great as Marty. He was socially awkward, and desperate, and very unconventional. Sometimes he was just so hard to watch and listen to, but he nailed it in such a good way. There's not a whole lot else to brag about for this movie. Not that it was bad, but because there wasn't too much in the way of Art Direction, Costumes, Score, etc. The acting was fine, and the screenplay was good. The storyline involving Marty's cousin and wife, with their terror of a mother, and Marty's mother invited the mother (her sister) to stay with her was a little unnecessary and quirky, but overall the film was a good one. It's not a story people like to tell, so it's often not told. It's not a cute romance like The Notebook, it's a real one, and it's awkward and quirky, but that's life isn't it?

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Screenplay- 8/10 
Visuals- 7/10 

Music- 7/10 Emotional Connection- 8/10 
Entertainment- 8.5/10 
Rewatchability- 8/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8.5/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     
Total: 77.5/100