Rated C for Cameron

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Category: Reviews

Short Term 12 and Monet Films

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Short Term 12 is available on Netlfix

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2370248/?ref_=nv_sr_1


What is lost sometimes in the conversation on the merits of film is the fact that it is a form of art. I know that sounds like the most obvious sentence to ever be written, but I mean something more by it. Film as an art is what makes things like Award Shows all the more useless, not because of subjectivity but because of the diversity of art. If I pose the question “Who is the better artist: Monet or Dali?” That’s one tough question, because both are amazing in their own right. Some might answer the question as if it was the question “Who do you like better?” and in that case the question becomes something completely different. Personally I like Dali. And so rages on my ongoing war on objectivity versus subjectivity. The point is that Monet and Dali are apples and oranges and can only be ranked against each other in some sort of 4th dimensional ranking system.

The rocky cliffs of Étretat by Monet.jpgMonet’s The Cliffs at Etretat

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Dali’s The Persistence of Memory

I brought up Monet and Dali as examples for a reason. To me the two are great representations of one of the simplest divisions in film. Monet made beautiful paintings, but the subtext wasn’t really there. Analysis of Monet seems to mostly focus on color theory over what he was trying to say with a piece. This isn’t to disparage Monet in the slightest. Look at The Cliffs at Etretat. Now if that isn’t a breathtaking work of art, I don’t know what is. But what is it trying to say? Well nothing, it’s a painting of cliffs. Then on the other hand we have Dali. Dali might as well have been called the human-metaphor. Dali’s art was rich in subtext and metaphor. Frankly had his work not had a deeper message it would have just been weird. But just because Dali has more metaphor than Monet, doesn’t make him a better artist. And this is the same case with film. I would like you to imagine a sliding scale from a film that is completely surface with its message (most likely a heavily story based film) to a film that is completely submerged in metaphor (think David Lynch or Jodorowsky). To me all films can be placed somewhere on this scale.

So why did I spend 2 paragraphs talking about that and not Short Term 12? Well to be completely honest I don’t really know what to say. Short Term 12 is a very Monet-like film. It’s a representation of the story it shows, like being a fly on the wall in this story. Its not lacking in metaphor, but all of its metaphors are tied up nicely by the end of the film. I’m trying my hardest to make my writing more about analysis and less about “the acting was good, the script was good,” so Short Term 12 is terrifying to write about. So in fear, I changed the subject. And just to let you know; the acting was good, and so was the script.

Check out the IMDB page to see the synopsis. If that synopsis sounds interesting, you will enjoy this film.

Cameron’s Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 1/5


PS: If I offended anyone who is more knowledgeable of art than me, I am deeply sorry.

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To and Fro: The Babadook

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Twas two nights before finals week, and Cameron wanted to see The Babadook. Cameron isn’t good at coming up with witty parodies, so just forget I even started. Anyway, Saturday the 13th, after my Sister’s graduation from college (YAY!) I made my Step-dad, Doug (a fantastic guy who writes and reports for laughingplace.com), take me to The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana to see The Babadook. Now, The Babadook is already on video on demand (Amazon, Google Play, etc.), but seeing as this might be the only time I could ever see this movie on THE BIG SCREEN, I thought it was worth it. But, because I love coming up with cool ways to make my reviews each a little different, I came up with “To and Fro.” Well, actually the idea comes from CinemaSins Before and After reviews, basically recording two guys driving to the movie talking about it, and then the drive after the movie with their reactions. Since I don’t have an adequate set-up for recording (and who wants to see my face anyways?) I recorded my conversations with Doug, and then went through and made a transcript of them. I took away some unneeded fluff and things that were specific spoilers for the film. But, bear in mind that the second half of this review is an analysis of The Babadook, and if you want to see the movie with absolutely no information, don’t read past the first part. So now, dear reader, journey with Doug and me as we go to The Frida Cinema to see The Babadook.


To

Cameron: Tell us, what movie we’re going to go see…

Doug: We are going to see… Marmaduke.

Cameron: Yes, The Marmaduke.

Doug: The most horror filled film you could ever imagine. No. We’re going to go see Bah-bu-duke.

C: Its actually pronounced Ba-buh-dook

D: Ba-buh-duck

C: Yeah. Have you seen the trailer for this movie?

D: I have not. I have been reading reviews and all of the reviews have been uniformly excellent for this film. And they describe it in terms like “unsettling” “psychological thriller”, and “horrifying, but not in a traditional sense.”

C: Yes. The words I’ve heard them say is it doesn’t have jump-scares, or at least it doesn’t rely on jump-scares

D: And my wife [my mom] has declined to see this, because she does not like films in which it depicts children in peril.

C: Yes. And that actually was what I was going to talk to you about next. I was thinking, I was gonna ask you the question “What are your favorite horror movies?” But, before I do, I was gonna say that when I was thinking of this question I thought of Coraline which although is a children’s movie I do consider it to be a horror movie…

D: Oh its definitely.

C: And I would also say The Shining. And, I don’t know, you’ve probably not seen the movie Pan’s Labyrinth, which is not really a horror, its more of a “creepy-fantasy” than a horror movie. But, what all of the three of them have in common is the theme of child-parent relationships. But, what are your favorite horror movies?

D: In terms of horror, easily, the earliest film that absolutely horrified me and stayed with me for years and years was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Strangely enough, not one of Hitchcock’s best films, not considered to be by most people. Yet, for me, it was the idea that something so ordinary as just little flocks of birds could bring such horror and such terror was very unsettling to me. And as a youngster it had a big impact on me.

C: So when did you see that movie?

D: I saw that movie when it was on television when I was a kid. When I was probably no more than eleven or twelve years old. Especially for those times, the gore was kind of graphic, people with their eyes gouged out.

C: Funny enough, the first horror movie I ever saw was the movie Final Destination.

D: Oh you’re kidding?

C: No, I saw it when I was like nine.

D: Why would you have seen that movie?

C: Oh, because Hilary had a friend over, and they wanted to watch it, and I was the bratty little brother who wanted to watch the horror movie with them. And I regretted it.

D: I’ll bet you did. Now another great horror film that I liked very much was the original Halloween.

C: The one with Jamie Lee Curtis.

D: That’s right, the one with Jamie Lee Curtis. Well actually, the second had Jamie Lee Curtis too, but we all prefer to forget that one. The original Halloween, I actually saw that on the recommendation of the reviews. I though it was a really well done movie. While it is the one that is considered to have been the one to kick off the slasher genre, it is not really a slasher movie per se. Its more of a psychological thriller, and it created this incredibly creepy atmosphere and sustained it all the way through. It also had kind of a jokey premise, and yet at the same time was satisfyingly horrifying without cheap terror.

C: And I will answer my next question first. What was the last horror movie that you saw for the first time? The last one for me, which I’d call it a horror movie, was a movie called Cube. That I watched last night. It was good, and they used a lot of practical effects for the gore. Which reminded me a bit of Hellraiser. The thing about Hellraiser is that they spent so much of their budget on certain practical effects that they ran out of money for all of them. So some of the practical effects look really good, and others looked awful.

D: I can’t even think of the last time I watched a horror film, because I’m not a big fan of them these days. Most of them are just designed to gross you out. And I can see enough of that on the evening news. Hilary and I saw one horror film together, Red Eye. And what was both endearing and irritating, because I’m very film-savvy, and because I saw a lot of the precursors of these kind of films, I spent most of the movie leaning over and telling Hilary when the next thing was gonna jump out of where. As in “it’s coming in from screen right.” And sure enough someone would jump in from screen right. And afterwards Hilary said, “How did you know?” And I said, “How could you not.” And that’s the reason why for the most part I don’t go to these types of movies nowadays.

C: That’s the thing. I was watching that movie Cube, and there was a minor little twist, nothing story changing. And as I was watching the movie I couldn’t recall if I had heard of the little twist before, or it was just a little too obvious. So when it was revealed I was like “Well yeah.”

D: Does it ever bother you in horror films when everyone on the screen is amazed at a revelation that was so patently obvious?

C: Yes, and Cube suffered from a bit of that along with some over-dramatic acting. But it was a good film, a little bit cheesy and funny.

D: Well, one of the things that I think helps a lot is having a low budget, and having a group of immensely talented people. It forces them to make really creative choices.

C: That does happen a lot with horror movies. It’s funny, cause in the recent past, there was Paranormal Activity, was really well received, but then the subsequent film series just got worse over time. And then the first Saw movie was really well done, and then the rest of the film just turned into torture fests.

D: Well because they had a lot of money. And it became “Oh, look what we can do with this.”

C: Well, while we’re finding parking. Let’s lead in to The Babadook. I’ve heard the basic premise is “kid has an obsession with monster from a storybook, and the mother starts to believe the child’s obsession.” And I guess we’ll find out if its any good, but just so people know you do not have to drive all the way out to Santa Ana to see this movie, it is already on video on demand. And now that we’ve parked its time to go in and see the movie. The Babadook. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Fro

Cameron: Well, first of all, what a creepy kid they got to play the son. I have to imagine that they did some sort of psychological testing to make sure that kid would be okay filming this movie. So what would you say is your initial take on the film? Because its one of those movies where the plot, in this case a monster movie, isn’t really what the film is about. In this case it was more about a wife moving past the death of her husband.

Doug: It’s about how people deal with loss. Or don’t deal with loss. The monster was more what she wasn’t dealing with.

Cameron: Yes, and you know this film. It has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means 98% of critics gave it a positive review. I think this film definitely deserves really positive review, but it wasn’t perfect.

Doug: Yes, there are definitely some major flaws, not the least of which was that they couldn’t really quite decide what to do with the ending. So we got a couple of false endings.

C: The one problem I had was the set design. I felt like the house was a little too obviously creepy, like everything was in shades of gray and black.

D: You know as the movie descends further and further…

C: Well that’s kind of what I’m saying. I felt like it didn’t do that. I felt at the beginning the house was a little too Tim Burton-ish. Because with these kind of horror movies the setting is normal, but the circumstances are abnormal. Unless maybe they’re saying that her grief was so much, that the house is sort of reflecting that.

D: You know speaking of production design. Something I thought was very good in this film was the sound design. I think the sound design did so much for the film. Just the ambient sound and the sound reinforced things.

C: And here’s something that I’m sure you’ll agree with me on. While at some points I was afraid. The thing that made it so creepy was how well they made you see things in the background of the scenes. And at some pints they were obviously making you think things, like “well obviously these shadows are supposed to look like The Babadook.” But at other points, I’d catch myself going “Oh, what is that! Oh its nothing.” It made your eyes play tricks on you. And you know I will probably end up rating this as an 8/10. If this movie had been less, I’d call it, sophisticated, and been more run-of-the-mill it would have been a 7/10. But the fact that they really went the extra mile to refine it, I think it deserves an 8/10 simply for that.

D: In terms of shortcomings, what would you say is a shortcoming of the film?

C: Well, at some points it felt like instead of “the audience should be confused at this point” it was like the filmmaker was confused. I think its best when the filmmaker knows what the truth of the matter is, and is then creating a sense of ambiguity. And I’m not saying that the director didn’t know what was happening; it just felt like that at some points.

D: I think what it suffered from, was that they set up an amazing premise and then could not find the same amazing resolution.

C: But I especially enjoyed the way they showed The Babadook, with that sort of stop motion vibe.

D: And then too, there was a lot in it that referenced, what I would call, antique or Stone Age films. And that they actually inserted some of those films into the movie.

C: Yes. I don’t want to call this film an homage, because it isn’t, it has elements of homages in it. I mean, there are some horror films that are as a totality an homage. This movie was not an homage, it had homages in it.

D: Well, the design of the storybook and then The Babadook was clearly referencing early film and German expressionist cinema.

C: The whole movie had a very storybook design to it. I mean in the set design and the production design there were really no extraneous elements, very simplistic.

D: Yes the production design was very good. Although you found the house to be a little too obvious.

C: And that is probably my single concrete issue with it. If anything the reason I don’t give a higher rating, like a 9/10, is because, while it is a sophisticated well-done film, it’s not remarkable. But, last but not least, if someone you know who loves horror movies asked “should I go see that movie?” What would you say?

D: It would depend on one important thing. If they were a person who liked horror movies that involve splatter and gore and things jumping out at you, I would say “perhaps.” I might have to consider if they might find it a little too precious. On the other hand if it’s someone who loves horror and who loves films I would not hesitate recommend it.

C: And I would agree.

Cameron’s Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 3/5


Movie Recommendations from this review:

Coraline

The Shining

Pan’s Labyrinth

The Birds

Cube

PS: The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana (where we saw The Babadook) will be one of the theaters showing The Interview on Christmas (Dec 25, 2014 thru Dec 27, 2014), so if you live in Orange County and want to see The Interview, I would recommend this theater. It’s a bit outdated, buts its got a lot of heart and it is decent of them to show The Interview. Happy Holidays, Everyone!

In Theaters: Interstellar

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Brimming with amazing images and intense moments, Interstellar is very much worth seeing in theaters, the larger the better. I would describe it as “intensely cinematic”, which is not out of place with Christopher Nolan’s recent films. Nolan really works best in the atmosphere of a filled movie theater, where plot and dialogue issues are easily glossed over for the beautiful imagery and well done set pieces. This has been my point of view of Nolan’s films since The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises are hardly bad films (none of which I would rate lower than a 7/10), but watching them on a television or computer screen takes some of the suspension-of-disbelief away that comes more naturally in a movie theater. This is why I find it hardly surprising that Nolan is a supporter of filming (with film) and film projection. He wants to have complete control of the way he meant for his movie to be shown.

The same way a director can have trademarks for things that are intentionally reoccurring in their films, Nolan also has some trademark issues. My biggest “trademark Nolan issue” with this film has to be the writing of the dialogue. Movies will not always have realistic dialogue, and sometimes the unrealistic dialogue, for example Sorkin or Tarantino, is better than the realistic dialogue. Sorkin and Tarantino write dialogue in a way that romanticizes the way we actually talk. Nolan deglamorizes how actually we talk. Almost all the dialogue is written in a way where it is all too clear that it is there simply to explain something to the audience or force forward the plot. So instead of feeling like the film is naturally progressing, it feels like an intensely thought out Rube Goldberg machine. And when the dialogue does have earnest moments, they feel out of place in the milieu.

Nolan does make up a lot for dialogue by having good actors say the dialogue. Matthew McConaughey’s inherent sincerity elevated the script in places where many other actors would have fallen flat. I don’t mean to bag on Nolan so much, as I do have great respect for him. It seems like an incredibly backhanded compliment to say that Nolan knows how to pick actors that can work around bad dialogue. But, it just feels so true. Especially when you look at the times in a Nolan film when one of the members of the supporting cast is spectacularly bad (I’m looking at you The Dark Knight), and it is almost always the dialogue to blame.

Despite all my moaning on dialogue, I really want to say that you should go see Interstellar in theaters. There are many times when I could hardly believe what I was seeing. It is clear to me that Nolan went the extra mile to create mind-blowing set pieces and really give us something truly unique. This is especially true considering the reverence the film gives to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The homages that are included to 2001 are very well placed. At the same time the film does not linger on its influences, it rather uses them as a jumping-off point for its own story. This is why I find it funny when people describe Nolan as narcissistic. Nolan is clearly a lover of film, and is not afraid to be clear about his influences, without being weighed down by them.

While I was returning from the theater after Interstellar, it seemed to me that Christopher Nolan has the auteur qualities of Tarantino, the writing qualities of James Cameron, and just a pinch of the philosophies of Charlie Kaufman. Though the one quality he draws from all three is an unyielding individuality. Nolan serves a great purpose for us as moviegoers, by making Blockbuster-type films that strive for more, and almost always have an influence on Hollywood as a whole.

Cameron’s Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 5/5


Movie Suggestion: 2001: A Space Odyssey


I reached my 400th rating on IMDB about a week ago! Check out my ratings page: (http://www.imdb.com/user/ur55232746/ratings?ref_=nv_usr_rt_4) to see my ratings. Please let me know if there is something you think I should watch or something I should write about, I love writing, but sometimes I need a little bit of outside influence to get my creative juices flowing.

In Theaters: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler

Though I’m pretty premature on the subject, I really think that the future will hold 2014 as one of the greatest years for movies, especially in the 21st century. After going to see Birdman, and being blown away, I can’t lie, but my expectations for Nightcrawler dropped slightly. It’s like when you have an amazing meal, the best meal of your life, no matter what your next meal is, it lacks the same appeal. I fully admit that this happened to me, and heck it may have skewed my opinion of Nightcrawler, but I’m certainly not saying that Nightcrawler was bad, far from it.

Nightcrawler was an extremely satisfying and impressive film. Especially considering that it was the directorial debut of Dan Gilroy. Made with a budget of 8.5 million dollars, an incredibly low amount for a film with such a cast, and the fact that it was filmed on location in Los Angeles really added to the film for me. As someone who lives in Orange County and often spends time in LA, the film really captured the city very well. Though I know this sentiment won’t affect the film’s quality for those of you who haven’t gone to LA. Often times there is a schism in films that depict Los Angeles. Some go too far to show the glitz and glamour of the city, others dwell too much on the strife of the tough areas of the city. What is forgotten many times is that while LA contains plenty of either of these things, there is much of the look and feel of Los Angeles that can be found in almost any city. I guess what I am saying is that LA is more normal than many people think.

Back to the film. I think going into the film I was expecting some deeper message. But at its heart, Nightcrawler is truly a character piece. While it shows some of the more vile practices of the American news media, it doesn’t really reveal anything, because most of what it shows is the kinds of things that we were already assuming. As a character piece though, it truly succeeds. Despite the writing or directing, what will make a character piece is the performance of the main actor or actors. An example I would give is the movie Chaplin. A lot of people hold Chaplin in very high regard. In my opinion the film is a standard paint-by-numbers period story of a rise to fame, a downfall, and then redemption. What made Chaplin good was the performance of Robert Downey Jr., completely immersive and realistic.

While Nightcrawler is no stock story, in fact it’s mighty unconventional, what made the movie was Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance. The movie made me really think about the possibility of how a sociopath might rise through the ranks of society. His performance is darkly humorous at times and frightening at others. My next comment contains some minor spoilers for the beginning of the film so I will write it in a separate paragraph with spoiler markings.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

As other commentators have said, I didn’t like the addition of Lou beating up the security guard at the beginning of the film. In my opinion it was dissonant to how his character acted throughout the rest of the film, and may have harmed the rise of the film’s tension.

SPOILERS END SPOILERS END SPOILERS END SPOILERS END

At times Gyllenhaal’s character, Lou, will go off on tangents about business tactics and advancing in a profession. While some actors (along with a director) might have taken this as Lou being sincere. Gyllenhaal makes it subtle yet clear that his character is not being sincere, rather he is merely saying what he believes will make people respect him, trust him, and even be submissive to him. Being as Lou is an obvious sociopath, his circumstances change throughout the film, but he is unfaltering in his unnatural behavior. Rene Russo, as the news director of a struggling morning news show, does go through developments, exhibiting how a person can be manipulated and succumb to the will of a threatening person.

I must note however the performance of Bill Paxton; it is impressive how Paxton constantly chameleons himself into his roles. I’ll admit that on more than one occasion I was not aware that he was in a movie until the credits rolled, and that was true for Nightcrawler. If you’re interested, just take a look at the dichotomy between his character in Nightcrawler and his character in Edge of Tomorrow.

If I were to give any criticism of Nightcrawler it would be on the pacing. The film felt a little repetitive at points, and rather than moving forward consistently it often seemed to go back to scenes that felt slightly unnescary. I understand that interstitial moments were needed to separate the night scenes of the movie, lest the audience not be aware of a time change. However rather than relying on similar scenes, such as Lou in his apartment, they could have provided a bit more variety. But it is so hard for me to deeply criticize this film, as it is Dan Gilroy’s first time directing. I see great potential in him, and the first films of great directors rarely define the rest of their careers (Scorsese, PT Anderson, Fincher).

Cameron’s Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 4/5


Movie Suggestion: Chaplin


PS: You may have noticed my unique banner for this review. I made it myself, rather than using images I find online, I hope to use more of my own work in the future.

In Theaters: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

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Have you ever watched a movie that made you question why you were watching it in the first place?

Yes, I have.

Most of the time it’s because a movie is so bad you regret even starting it, right?

Yup, except Birdman.

What do you mean?


Birdman is an achievement. A movie that I am sure people will be watching and analyzing for years to come. After I watched it, my immediate feeling was that it was a 10/10, but I let myself think on it and not come to a decision too quickly. But first impressions are often correct, and this was an example of that.

On IMDB, I have only rated 6 movies as 10/10. This isn’t because I’m a harsh critic, its just that my rating system is different than most. Any movie that I give a 9/10 would be a movie that I label as near perfect, since nothing can be perfect. For me, 10/10 is my most personal rating, it means that the movie was not only near perfect, but was also a movie that changed my perspective on movies and life. I know it sounds pretentious, but its how I do it. And I think the fact that I have so far only given that rating to 6 movies, shows I don’t take it lightly. If it was an option I would rate my 10/10 movies as 11/10 and bring all the other ratings up, but its not.

Now, back to Birdman. I don’t want to say too much about the movie, because I want you all to watch it as fresh as possible. So I will be vague sometimes, but for the greater good.

Like I said, Birdman was not the first time I have watched a movie and questioned why I was watching it in the first place, but it is the first time that that feeling was associated with such a good movie. Often, people use the phrase “meta” very liberally. Using it where the phrase “self-aware” or “breaking the fourth wall” would probably be suited better. Birdman breaks the fourth wall and is very self-aware, but overall it is very meta. Not in the sense that the movie is about the making of itself, but in the sense that its messages are all commentary on film making, acting, and our experience as an audience.

In this sense, it made me question why I was watching it. Birdman made me question a lot of things. Why does a group of people congregate in a dark room to watch moving pictures on a screen that depict fiction? Why do people dream of being on that screen? And why is this one of the biggest businesses in the world? And the best part about Birdman is it is not so conceited to think it has the answers to these questions, it merely provides a better point of view for them.

Two more notes before I conclude:

  1. This movie is one of the greatest portrayals of the realities of theatre (and stage acting) I have ever seen. It rivals only one other movie, one that I also rated 10/10, Synecdoche, New York.
  1. When you watch Birdman I highly recommend that you keep in mind the subtitle of the film. Its full title is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). That subtitle, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is one of the most important elements of the film. The use of that subtitle also goes along with the relationship between Theatre and Film explored in the film. Most of the time, especially with blockbusters, the title of a film will be like a very short description of the film itself, just another piece of advertising (for example Back to the Future). While, with a lot of stage plays the title is used as an extension of the message of the play itself (such as The Crucible). So one could see the title of the film, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), as the two versions of the title, one reflects the film’s commentary on mainstream films; the other reflects the film’s commentary on theatre.

Just to add a bit of traditional critiquing….

The acting in the film was all on point. Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone all give performances that are “Oscar Worthy” (to use the parlance of our times). Particularly Edward Norton’s depiction of a “serious” method actor is just sublime.

The film is 95% shot to appear as if it is one shot, and sometimes this leads to transitional shots that might not have appeared if the film was traditionally edited. However I feel like these didn’t detract from the film, and if anything it mimicked the short transitions that sometimes happen in stage plays while the next scene is being set.

I really want people to see Birdman, so that I will have more people to talk to about it. So I recommend if you go and see it you bring as many people as possible, so that you can get as many people’s points of view on it. This is a movie that beautifully allows itself to be interpreted in numerous ways, without being so ambiguous that discussion seems fruitless.


Cameron’s Rating of Birdman: 10/10

Repeat viewing quality: 5/5


Movie recommendations from this review:

Synecdoche, New York

Sunday(s) to Saturday(s) (Weeks of October 12th 2014 and October 19th 2014)

SUNSAT


I didn’t get around to doing this last week, so I will make up for it by doing two weeks of reviews in this piece. I am also going to start adding a new rating to these reviews, and future reviews: a repeat viewing quality rating, which lets you know if I think is worth seeing multiple times.


John Wick [In Theaters]

John Wick feels like a 90-minute vodka commercial, and I’m okay with that. This movie is stylish and fun, and left me thinking, “Wow, they actually made that movie.” The action was amazing, the acting was just delightful, and the story was too cheesy not to love. Keanu Reeves shows that he is far from irrelevancy, and that he evidently still has the fountain of youth on tap.

Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 5/5


Psycho (1960)

I know this sounds weird, but this was the first Hitchcock movie I had ever seen. Psycho is extremely enjoyable, but it is impossible to watch this movie without seeing the points where other films have mimicked it. The movie isn’t dated by its content, its dated by its influence. What really made me enjoy this film was how simple it was. I think its reputation made me think it was going to be highly complex and deeply layered, but it was not. It is a short and direct movie, and its worth watching just so you have some more cultural awareness. Rating it was difficult though, should I rate the movie based on its actual quality or by how influential it was? I decided the split the difference.

Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 3/5


Children of Men

Children of Men is a technical juggernaut. Even those who are not well versed in film making will recognize how impressive the movie is. One can see the sort of natural evolution that Alfonso Cuarón made from this film to last year’s Gravity. However, just like Gravity, technical expertise does not hide a poor structure and writing. Children of Men seems to rely on the idea that an audience will naturally become attached to the story and characters without any reason to. This does not mesh well with such impressive film making, because the inherent knowledge that I was watching a film never once left my mind. But just have to give this movie credit for how amazing the cinematography, design, and sound design were.

Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 2/5


Gran Torino

While Gran Torino was quite enjoyable while I was watching it, it only occupied space in my head for a little while before it just evaporated. The film is incredibly honest. Its depiction of father-child relationships, race relationships, and the struggles brought about by immigration all felt very real. My problem was that the movie never felt like it knew what kind of movie it was. If it was a movie focusing on race relations it should have spent more time exploring that. If it was a character driven movie it should have had better character insight and development.

Rating: 7/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 1/5


Edge of Tomorrow

While I kept meaning to go see Edge of Tomorrow while it was in theaters, I didn’t get around to it. While it was in theaters and since then it has taken a shockingly quick journey to cult status. So when I sat down to watch it I didn’t really know what to expect. While I can’t say the film was as incredible as many have said, it was still good. If you have the time, and you want to watch a good film that doesn’t take itself to seriously, then watch John Wick. And after you watch John Wick, watch Edge of Tomorrow.

Rating: 7/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 4/5


Snowpiercer

I guess I just don’t get it.

Rating: 4/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 1/5


Sunday to Saturday (Week of 10/5/14)

This will be a reoccurring feature on this blog. Many times I will watch many more movies than I have time to write a full article about. Also, sometimes I will watch a movie that is pretty straightforward and doesn’t really call for a deep analysis. With this in mind, every week (hopefully) I will take time to write a short blurb about the movies I saw for the first time in the last week. So without further ado, here is the first Sunday to Saturday, from Sunday October 5th to Saturday October 11th.


Beowulf

From the time when we were still on the bad side of motion capture movies, its Beowulf! This is a prime example of a movie that I feel doesn’t call for deep analysis, because its source material has already been analyzed so much. From the opinions I had heard about the film, I expected to be completely underwhelmed, but I was not. It was an enjoyable film, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was wasting my time watching it. Really the only major problem it has is the motion capture animation, which dates the film immediately. Almost every time I was watching a scene, I couldn’t help but feel I would rather be watching it in live action. Really the only time I felt it was necessary was with Grendel, played by Crispin Glover, because the character was not human, but a grotesque monster. I wouldn’t recommend the film to everyone, but certainly if you are a Game of Thrones fan eagerly waiting between seasons, this movie feels similar in a way.

7/10


The Raid: Redemption

I think in the future I will write a longer piece on action movies, and in that piece I will definitely be talking about this movie. The Raid was a fantastic action movie. It didn’t fiddle around too much with the outside plot, instead it was pretty much one action sequence after another. As opposed to many action movies that try too hard to push in an unbearable plot into the middle of the action. It’s also a movie that benefits from a lack of major movie stars, because you don’t get those “Well I know Bruce Willis can’t die” moments. This movie was fantastic, and definitely has potential to be watched over and over again. On a side note, I definitely love when movies make a point to give a punch or a kick real impact, as opposed to looking like a pillow fight.

8/10


O Brother, Where Art Thou?

This movie is the Coen Brother’s take on The Odyssey, only if it took place in the 1930s south. The Coen Brothers continue to excel at what they do best, taking horrible situations and making them hilarious. The film had few dull moments, and definitely had a great Homeric vibe. Though, the standout feature of the movie has to be the soundtrack. I had heard for years about this movie’s amazing soundtrack, and it really was fantastic. The Coen Brothers have a great track record with choosing songs for their movies, especially True Grit and The Big Lebowski. The only weakness of the movie comes from the fact that the movie felt like it was slightly hollow. Its message speaks a lot about heart and love; it would have been nice to see more of that in its presentation.

8/10


Tombstone

Tombstone isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, its a lot more Die Hard than The Departed. That’s not saying that that Die Hard is bad, because I would have to be crazy to think that. I’m really saying that Tombstone is not a subtle movie, it’s a fun fest of action and kick-ass dialogue that makes you want do push-ups and play poker for pink slips.”

7/10

Full review:

https://cameronbarrettstewart.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/tombstone/


Gone Girl

“The film displays the same delicacy that I have seen in Fincher’s more recent endeavors (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, House of Cards). The way everything seems so meticulously arranged, on every level of the process, makes for an experience where you don’t want be distracted from it for a second. In a world where so many movies seem superficial, its nice to see reminders that filmmakers can trust the audience to pay attention and think, and not have to state everything for them.”

9/10

Full review:

https://cameronbarrettstewart.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/gone-girl-2/


Want to recommend a movie for me? Leave a comment. Interested in what movies I have seen before? Check out my IMDB ratings page: http://www.imdb.com/user/ur55232746/ratings.

Tombstone

“Why Ed does this mean we’re not friends anymore? You know Ed, if I thought you weren’t my friend… I just don’t think I could bear it!” -Doc Holiday (Tombstone)


Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre (uncredited)
Written by Kevin Jarre

Tombstone-1993-–-Hollywood-Movie-Watch-Online

The more Westerns I watch the more I realize that this genre is just too much fun to be lost to history. I mean, I think I could watch footage of horse chases for hours on end and never stop enjoying it. However, it was a genre that I generally ignored for a long time, and it was the Coen Brother’s True Grit that piqued my interest in the genre and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (which was like a Shakespearean tragedy in the West) that made me realize how much Westerns have to offer. I plan to watch a lot more Westerns in the future, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

A70-7548

The film Tombstone first caught my attention with its poster. Four mustachioed gunmen clad in black walking towards the camera, with Kurt Russell leading the pack. The image was just to cool to ignore, and Kurt Russell is always fun to watch. Despite the general criticisms of Tarantino’s Death Proof, Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike was amazing. So I couldn’t wait to see Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp kicking some outlaw ass, but it was really Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday that brought this movie up to a whole new level. Now, I know that Kilmer hasn’t had the best luck with movies over the course of his career, though one could blame Batman Forever for that. In fact the only movie that I had seen with Kilmer before Tombstone was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is a great movie and Kilmer was really fun in it. Kilmer, in Tombstone, delivers a performance that I can only equate to Heath Ledger as The Joker. The rest of the cast was a grab bag of some phenomenal actors, like Sam Elliot, Bill Paton, Charlton Heston, etc. Just check out the IMDb cast page and see what I mean (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108358/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast).

Tombstone isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, its a lot more Die Hard than The Departed. That’s not saying that that Die Hard is bad, because I would have to be crazy to think that. I’m really saying that Tombstone is not a subtle movie, it’s a fun fest of action and kick-ass dialogue that makes you want do push-ups and play poker for pink slips. Which makes my major problem with it so much of a bigger problem.

In order to explain what I mean, I’m going to draw a comparison that may be a bit odd. Rest assured it will make sense eventually.

morning_glory_ver4

In 2010 a movie called Morning Glory hit theaters. In Morning Glory, Rachel McAdams plays a TV News Producer charged with the task of trying to save a struggling morning news show. The film is forgettable and if you wanted to watch it I suggest looking in the $2 bin at Best Buy. It wasn’t terrible, in fact in the interactions between Diane Keaton’s veteran morning news host and Harrison Ford’s grumpy serious news anchor were some great little moments.

What really sunk Morning Glory was an unnecessary love story. While Rachel McAdams is giving it all she’s got to save that struggling morning show, she has a love interest trying to win her heart. The whole thing is so useless that if you look at the Wikipedia plot summary, only five sentences in the five-paragraph summary even mention the love interest. The film’s plot is about the success or failure of this morning show, not her love life.

And this is where Tombstone suffers at the expense of almost the same issue. A love interest wasn’t needed. I could hardly call it shoe horned, because Tombstone is based on actual events. But the film makes no attempt to try and make the love interest be a vital part of the story. Wyatt Earp arrives to town with his opiate addicted wife, and he soon meets a free-spirited actress who never wants to settle down, he is smitten, but she wants to be free and live off of room service and he isn’t sure about that life. It doesn’t sound half bad on paper, you know except the part where Wyatt starts pushing away his addiction-afflicted wife. If Tombstone was some sort of Western Romance Drama it might even work, but it isn’t and it doesn’t. All of the stuff that makes Tombstone good comes from the story of a group of retired earnest lawmen that must saddle up once more to rid a town of a gang of outlaws. But these two sides of the plot have no effect on each other. I was waiting for some sort of intersection between them, but it never came. On top of that, the writing for the free-spirited love interest was dire; it was like the writer was taking pages out of “Writing a Free-Spirited Love Interest for Dummies.”

I don’t want to go on and on about it though, because Tombstone, even with its issues, is a really fun movie. One that I can see coming back to again and again, especially for Val Kilmer’s remarkable performance. I would love to see him make a comeback to better roles, similar to Matthew Mcconaughey’s McConaissance.

So like a… Valnaissance?

No!

A “Val”iant Return?

No!

A “Kilm” Back?

Please Stop.

Ok


Cameron’s Rating for Tombstone: 7/10


PS: Patrick Wilson, an amazingly underrated actor, played the love interest in Morning Glory. Watch Hard Candy and The HBO miniseries of “Angel’s in America” to see examples of his better roles.


What I listened to while writing this:

Weird Al’s Album Mandatory Fun

Weezer’s Album Everything Will Be Alright In The End

The score to True Grit (2010)

Nth Degree  – Morningwood

Movie Recommendations from this review:

True Grit (2010)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Death Proof

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The Dark Knight

Die Hard

The Departed


“I’m your huckleberry…” – Doc Holiday


As always, feedback and suggestions make me happy

Gone Girl

Directed by David Fincher
Written by Gillian Flynn
Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn

GoneGirl

I have been an enormous fan of David Fincher ever since 13 year-old me snuck a copy of Fight Club from my sister’s room and watched it on a 7 inch TV. Before Fight Club, movies had been only superficial pieces of entertainment to me. I had never thought about the potentially deeper messages of the movies I had seen. But Fight Club was a movie that challenged my young mind and even [GASP] tricked me! All of the sudden I had grasped the concept of the unreliable narrator. Now movies were not superficial to me, they were nesting dolls. Since then I have seen every David Fincher movie, except The Game (on my watch list) and Alien 3 (not on my watch list). As a fan, I am comfortable saying that Gone Girl is certain to please you if you are a fan of Fincher, and also possibly sicken you. Rest assured, no spoilers.

The film displays the same delicacy that I have seen in Fincher’s more recent endeavors (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, House of Cards). The way everything seems so meticulously arranged, on every level of the process, makes for an experience where you don’t want be distracted from it for a second. In a world where so many movies seem superficial, its nice to see reminders that filmmakers can trust the audience to pay attention and think, and not have to state everything for them. At the same time Gone Girl doesn’t place its hints with such difficulty that I felt like I was being intentionally misled. And the cherry on top of the whole movie is it’s incredible score, done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who also did the scores for Fincher’s The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

When it comes to my opinion of the acting, I was never taken out of the movie by a bad performance. Although some characters, for example Amy’s Parents, seemed like they were being intentionally made to seem exaggerated. I could have done without this, considering the fact that the majority of the characters were shown to act very naturally, but it never detracted from the film. Any fear I might have had over the acting talents of Ben Affleck were quelled by this film. I admit at times I was carefully watching to judge his acting, and not once did he “mess up.” Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne was simply amazing; it’s very rarely that a character feels so real to me. Her performance was of the same caliber of other contemporary “greats” like Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, and Kevin Spacey. It was only upon writing this review that I remembered that Pike had played Sam in The World’s End, and even now it’s hard to place that character alongside Amy in Gone Girl.

Carrie Coon, as the twin sister of Ben Affleck’s character, was also a standout. The interplay between the two characters was fantastic, and completely believable as brother and sister. And, in case you were wondering, Tyler Perry did just fine, although I kept hoping for him to break out into a little Madea (Sarcasm.)

Immediately after seeing the film I felt like a second viewing would be tough (the film was very emotionally draining), but as I reflect more, I really cannot wait to go back and see this movie again.

Cameron’s Rating: 9/10


What I listened to while writing this:

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants

Gone Girl Score – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Movie Recommendations in relation to this review:

Fight Club

The Social Network

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The World’s End


If you have any movies that you want to recommend for me to watch or review leave a comment for me and I will get right on it ASAP.