Category: Movies


Drive

Title: “Drive″

Rating: 10 out of 10 (This is a “classic” in my eyes)

Movie Details: View here

Summary:

A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.

Story:

Gosling’s character (who doesn’t have a name; people call him “kid” or “the driver” and the character is listed as “Driver” in the credits) helps his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and gets emotionally close to her and her son, Benicio.

When Irene’s husband, Standard, returns from jail and owes protection money to some crooks, Driver helps him do a heist to repay his debt.  But when things go sour during the heist, Driver finds himself and Irene in deep trouble with the mob.  Driver goes to extreme lengths to protect Irene and her child.

What worked:

Jeez, what didn’t work???  This is more than a movie; it’s an experience.  It’s a classic.

And I’ve been asking myself, “What makes a movie an experience?  What defines a movie as a classic?”  And to me, a big part of the answer is the soundtrack.  Sure, if a movie has incredible cinematography, you will remember it fondly, but if a movie has both amazing cinematography AND a holistic soundtrack, the movie sticks with you on a deeper level. Just like smell is the strongest of the five human senses for memory, the soundtrack/hearing must be the most powerful in that of the film world (since smell is currently not an option).

Think about any movies you consider to be classics – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “Star Wars”, “The Mission”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Fight Club”, “The Breakfast Club” … these movies invoke a certain nostalgic feeling in most people, I would dare to assume, and I think it’s because of four components:

  • Story
  • Characters
  • Cinematography
  • Soundtrack

But the soundtrack, I believe, really helps to cement the movie in the viewer’s memory and psyche more deeply than the other three components.  But let’s examine those other components of this movie:

Cinematography – Of course, gorgeous and breathtaking.  The director, Nicolas Winding Refn, does an amazing job using the LA sun to create warm emotions during soft and tender moments.

Soundtrack – One of the biggest things that makes this movie more an experience than a movie.  It’s so different and impacting.  Heavy bass and 80s electronic elements make this movie seem like the movie the 80s never had.  I’m currently in love with the main song of the movie, “A Real Hero”, by College.

Characters – It’s really great to see Gosling as this lone cowboy badass, and so many of the characters being who they are more so with their body language and not with their dialogue.  It’s always a great change of pace to see a movie with limited dialogue, because, if done right, you’re forced to pay attention to other ways the actors have to express their feelings, motivations, and motives.  For a similar dialogue-light movie, check out “Hunger“.

What didn’t work:

While I hesitate to write anything here, I must admit that the story was not original.  A cowboy meets a girl, falls in love, protects girl from ruthless enemies.  In fact, one of the two things that didn’t work for this movie are the story and the trailers.

Looking back, I remember reading the plot description of “Drive” on IMDB.com and seeing the trailer, and not being impressed at all.  And I think it’s because, like I said earlier, the story is so unoriginal, but also because the trailer sadly does a horrible job at communicating the awesomeness of this movie.  I’m a huge fan of trailers, because I think they provide such insight to a movie.  They are the 2-min elevator pitch, the clincher, the lure, the hook that needs to draw people in to spend money to see this movie.  And so the trailer producers have to do a really good job.

The Bottom Line:

You need to see this movie.  Your friends need to see this movie.  Your family needs to see this movie.  This is a classic, in case I have not made that clear enough already.

Prudes might not like the movie because of sporadic moments of gratuitous/satisfying violence, but I can’t imagine anyone denying the beautiful cinematography, soundtrack, and overall quality of this movie.

Have you seen it yet?  Do it now.

Breaking Dawn: Part 1

After stumbling upon an awesome review for the movie Chronicle on the movie website, ComingSoon.net, I’ve decided to modify my review format.  It’s pretty much copied from the reviewer, Scott Chitwood, which I hope is OK with him.  You can check out the review here: Chronicle review.

Title: “Breaking Dawn: Part 1”

Rating: 7 out of 10

Movie Details: View here

Summary:

“Breaking Dawn: Part 1” continues the brooding teen/fantasy romance theme with decent cinematography, music, special effects, and acting.  If you have enjoyed the Twilight movies so far (even just moderately), definitely check this out.  Plus, it’s not like you can’t finish watching the series now!

Story:

Edward & Bella finally tie the knot, much to the displeasure of Bella’s best friend/unrequited lover and werewolf, Jacob Black.  The wedding goes smoothly, with the exception of Jacob’s outburst from Bella’s admission that she and Edward plan on having sex on their honeymoon.

Cautionary sex and lots of intimacy are the main components of Edward & Bella’s honeymoon.  But things quickly shake up when Bella realizes she’s pregnant.  The newlyweds rush back home to have Carlisle (Edward’s father) abort the fetus, though Bella realizes she wants to keep the baby, no matter what kind of creature it is.

As Bella’s fast-growing baby wreaks havoc on her body, Edward and Jacob find themselves agreeing that the demon seed must go, while Jacob’s wolf pack grows wary.

“Breaking Dawn: Part 1” is rated PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements.

What worked:

The formula of this movie is pretty much the same as “New Moon” and “Eclipse” – start off the movie with a foreshadowing, romantic/dark quotation, have the movie revolve around said quotation, lots of brooding teenage love/angst, a good amount of CGI showcasing the fantasy creatures, and a cliffhanger ending leading into the next movie in the franchise.

I’ve read the books and I always give book-based movies a little slack, because there’s so much packed into a book that’s impossible to fit into a movie (i.e., thoughts of characters, superfluous events & characters, just to name a few).  That being said, I think the directors have done a very decent job with all Twilight movies, with the very big exception of the first one (director: Catherine Hardwicke).  The director of “Breaking Dawn: Part 1” does an excellent job at pacing, ensuring that things don’t move too fast or too slow, which I would think would be especially hard when breaking up this fourth and final book into two movies.

The birth scene of Bella’s child was very well-done, considering how gruesome it is described in the books.

What didn’t work:

The acting still needs a bit of work, though it’s hard to judge the actors too harshly if you’ve read the books – continuous brooding and outbursts of passion can only be acted out so many times.

The Bottom Line:

If you enjoyed the books and have enjoyed the movies, definitely see this one.  It’s always fun to see a good book’s characters & world come to life on screen, and this movie does a decent job at it.

So true:

10 Movie Poster Cliches (with plenty examples)

 

Captain America: The First Avenger

With all the hype this movie received, I was very much let down.  I wouldn’t call this a super hero/comic book movie, since there really isn’t anything super about Captain America’s powers, or even those of the villain.  This was basically a glorified Indiana Jones/war film, and not as entertaining.  Before I saw this movie, I thought Captain America and his powers were lame; now, after seeing the movie, I still belief that.  The only parts that really showed off Captain America’s powers was when he jumped over a tall fence and when he was kicking bad guys 10 feet into the air.  Big whoop. Even powerless super heroes (i.e., Batman, Iron Man, etc.) have cool gadgets.  Captain America’s only toy – his vibranium shield – is lame, because there is only so much he can do with it.  Hurling it at enemies, deflecting bullets….hmmm, that’s about it.  And that’s about all they show Captain America doing.

A lot of the movie was very “beat ’em up/storm the fortress with only 5 men”, and I found it very corny.  For example, the first time we see Captain America really in action is when he decides to storm a heavily guarded enemy fortress to rescue his friend.  He of course succeeds, but that whole part Captain America was basically punching and kicking bad guys, which the director did a poor job at making it look entertaining.

Hugo Weaving, who plays Red Skull, does an awesome job as always as a villain.  But there again, his powers were lame.

I looked at the clock a lot during this movie, wondering when it would end.

 

What was good about it

Decent action at times, though few and far between

What was bad about it

Sucky job at portraying super powers/abilities/gadgets

Corny, cheesy scenes

Sub-par fighting scenes for a movie of this budget

 

The trailer for this movie deceived me somewhat, into thinking this was going to be a decent romantic comedy.  Probably because of the diverse cast and nice soundtrack.  While this IS a decent romantic comedy, it just barely meets that criteria.  A lot of the lines are very corny and overly theatrical.  Like when Steve Carel’s character’s son makes a big speech for his 8th grade graduation about how love is a joke, and then Carel swoops in to save the day and talk about how valuable love is.  Really?  In front of an assembly of parents and 8th graders?  Now, normally I don’t have a problem with over the top stuff, just as long as it is entertaining.  Crazy Stupid Love lacks that factor, so I was annoyed half the time.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack, though.  Enough to seriously consider buying/downloading it. Ryan Gosling’s character, Jacob, might have been annoying if it had been anyone else but Gosling acting the part.  I find Gosling to be a really talented actor, which I think shines through especially in these seemingly one dimensional, simple characters.

What was good about it

Diverse, likeable cast

Ryan Gosling takes his shirt off

Soundtrack

What was bad about it

Overly dramatic and corny

Hunger

It’s been a while since I saw a movie with such great cinematography and minimal dialogue.  Shame was a very nice break from most movies in that there was very little dialogue, but the angles and color of the shots were amazing.  It stars one of my favorite new up and coming actors, Michael Fassbender.  Ever since I saw him in X-Men: First Class, I was drawn in by Fassbender’s comittment to his character (Magneto).  Then, when I saw him in Inglorious Basterds, I was amazed that he was fluent in German.  That’s probably because I love languages, and the fact that someone is a polyglot.

In fact, the whole reason I heard about and saw Hunger, was because I IMDB’d Fassbender and both Hunger & Shame look like great movies.  I can’t wait to see Shame, in which Fassbender plays a sex addict. The director for both Hunger & Shame is Steve McQueen, so I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy Shame.  In fact, now that I think about it, the trailer for Shame had less dialogue in it than the trailer for Hunger.  So might Shame have even less dialogue in it than Hunger?  Can’t wait to find out, either way.

I once read an article on Fassbender comparing him to Brad Pitt, which is funny since I just found out that Steve McQueen is set to direct a movie starring both Pitt and Fassbender – Twelve Years a Slave.  The film is due for 2013 and I cannot wait to see it.

What was good about it

Awesome cinematography – clearly outweighed dialogue, and did an excellent job.

Acting – Fassbender, the protagonist, does an amazing job with relatively few lines.  The other actors do the same.

It was about Ireland.  Need I say more?  (I’m half Irish, for those who didn’t know)

What was bad about it

There were rare instances where I found myself annoyed by long, unspoken shots.  One in particular where a prison guard disinfects and cleans a whole corridor.  “What was the point of that?”, I wondered.  But I’m sure there is some point to it.

Preview – Chronicle

I just saw a trailer for this movie and I got so excited I had to write about it and tell everyone about it.  The main thing that excites me is the real-life portrayal of people who gain telekinetic powers.  I have always fantasized about this (as I’m sure many others have), and thought about what I would actually use my powers for, and what the world’s reaction would be.  I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it now.

Another cool thing is that it takes place in Seattle.

Watch the trailer here.

God, haven’t written a movie review in a long, long, LONG time.  Since 2008.  I’ve been meaning to write a review ever since I saw Black Snake Moan, which is actually a very good movie.  I might review it in the future, but I’m going to review a recently-seen movie, since it’s more fresh in my mind.

Horrible Bosses is a very decent comedy.  I’ve been bitching lately that there aren’t any decent horror or comedy movies out lately.  The Hangover and Bridesmaides were the last two comedies that stick out in my head.  And I haven’t seen a good scary movie since Paranormal Activity.  so, I was very pleased when I saw Horrible Bosses.

What was good about it

How do you describe what aspects of a comedy worked?  I find it a bit difficult.  It was just funny – the dialogue between the calendars, just the right amount of slap-stick, outrageous moments…and yet, all these things can be poor in a bad comedy.  But what makes them work in good comedies?  Probably something larger to ponder and solve for another day…

Each of the 3 bosses was outrageous and extreme and funny, as well as the dialogue between the 3 main characters.  It was crazy to see so many famous faces – Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, etc.  The ending was not cliche, and it was refreshing to see a 3 Stoogies-esque story that didn’t rely solely on slap-stick, and where not everything worked out in the end.

What was bad about it

Charlie Day’s character, Dale, was extremely annoying.  Mostly his high voice.  That’s it, though.  His character was an entertaining bumbling idiot.

 

Black Hawk Down

A well-made war movie.  The camera work intrigued me in a good way, but it took a while to get used to it.  A sort of “Ahhh yeah” moment dawned on me when I saw Ridley Scott was the director; I should’ve known.  I felt almost like I was walking on egg shells, as the director did a good job of placing the viewer in an actual war where bullets fly at random, everyone screams orders over chaos, and things never go as smoothly as one intended. I speak about war, but acknowledge that I’ve never been in one; when I talk about war or combat, I try to keep a respectable distance and honest silence about a lot of aspects.

Out of the few war movies i have seen, this one made me cry.  The scene where that one soldier was telling Josh Hartnet to tell his parents that he fought hard.  I know it was so cliché of war movies, but the acting was really sincere. I flinched a lot, especially when they were trying to retrieve that one artery out of that one soldier’s pelvis and the guy blacked out.  Phew.  There were a lot of scenes when the camera would be portraying some soliders in a very vulnerable position, and the background noise would soften, and I’d tense up a lot.  I’d say any director who can manipulate a camera so as to invoke such physical reactions, is doing a good job.

So many famous faces!  Wow!  Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard, Jason Isaacs… very cool.

I was annoyed by Eric Bana’s final little monologue about people not understanding his explanation of “why” he fights; I guess because I don’t personally know any military personal, and I would love for them to please explain WHY they fight someone else’s war.  I understand and greatly respect the brave men & women who work night and day to protect our country, but in a lot of instances of needless or seeminly stupid battles, I would love to know why people would sign up for that.

Definitely recommend it; if you’re like me and are not a big fan of war movies, don’t worry- this is a good one.

A Few Good Men

Wowie.  VERY good movie.  Jack Nicholson, as always, delivers a strong, dramatic performance.  And, I don’t care what people say about Tom Cruise- that man can ACT, and damn it, I got shivers watching his end scene with Jack Nicholson.

I don’t know what it is about movies with court room jargon (or maybe it’s just ANY kind of jargon), but my head was swimming half the time trying to remember names and military acronyms.  The music made me laugh, in that it just kind of stormed into the scene reminding the audience they were supposed to feel a certain emotion.  I suppose every soundtrack functions in the same way, but this one felt it was pushing me to feel happy or worried in specific points.  I think a lot of soundtracks from movies from the 70s-90s did this.  Nowadays, the background music either creeps into the scene like a fine mist, or there is none, so that the viewer can make up his or her own mind what to feel.

Everyone did a very good job, even the ones with minor roles, such as Kiefer Sutherland and Wolfgang Bodison (Dawson).

The end scene was definitely the most memorable and firey part, with that notorious line of Nicholson.  I also loved when Bodison delivered his short speech to Cruise about the “UNIT, CORPS, GOD, COUNTRY!!!!!”

This movie is definitely going on my list of favorites.