Movies, music, cartoons, comics, food, and television. That's just the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night.
In the wake of a tragedy the public starts to look for answers on why everything goes wrong. A common scapegoat for a tragedy is music. Musical artists like Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, and Marilyn Manson have all felt pressure from the public because of misinterpretation of their music. (In Marilyn Manson’s case it was just a witch hunt, since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine High School Massacre didn’t even like his music.) While the artists are not directly involved, they still feel the guilt over the calamity.
In the movie Black Metal, Ian (Jonny Mars), the lead singer of the band Crown of Horns, begins to go through a period of bleakness after one of his fans kills his teacher in cold blood. While Ian may have the ghastly black metal persona on stage, off stage he’s actually a calm parent who seems to live a typical life.
The tragedy begins to take a toll on Ian after a fight in a convenience store where he is confronted by a passer-by who blames him for the incident and even goes so far as to say that it was probably Ian’s child who committed the acts of murder. (This doesn’t bode well for the passer-by)
While it may be difficult to tell a story in under nine minutes, writer and director Kat Candler does a pretty good job of showing you the traumatic event and the chain reaction that comes from it. The film also doesn’t feel like it’s trying to capitalize off of the black metal controversies from Norway. Rather, this film depicts an artist influenced by the music who finds himself in his own dilemma caused by murder.
Jonny Mars is really good in Black Metal, due to time constraints it’s not easy for someone to give a a completely developed performance in a short film, but Mars was able to do it. While the title would have you think that you would see more of his black metal persona, you only really see it in the very beginning of the film. The majority of the film sees Ian as just an average guy.
The cinematography in the film definitely stands out. From the shots of the grisly murder scene, to Ian talking to his daughter in the middle of the night, everything is shot superbly well.
While the film has a somewhat abrupt ending, it’s very well done and worth a watch. I don’t watch a lot of short films (Unless you count cartoons as short films), but Black Metal was something that I couldn’t help but watch because of the subject matter. Even though it isn’t my favorite metal genre, it does have an interesting history behind it. However as I said before, this movie isn’t about that history, it is merely a backdrop for the story. You don’t need to be a metal fan to enjoy this movie, wouldn’t hurt, though.
Black Metal is an official selection for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and can be seen for free on YouTube.
It’s been a while since Judd Apatow’s last movie. While his last film, Funny People, wasn’t his best film, Apatow has been a part of a lot of quality projects in the past. So I was willing to give This is 40 a chance.
This is 40 follows the continuing story of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) from Knocked Up. As the title explains Pete and Debbie are finally crossing over to 40 and neither seem to be too happy about it. (Pete seems to be taking it much better than Debbie does, though.) Age isn’t the only problem that they’re facing, as financial problems begin to pile up for both Pete and Debbie’s businesses and parenthood seems to be a hindrance for both of them.
Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann perform well with each other and perfectly capture a bickering couple in the middle of a long argument. Of course this is the same nagging couple that worked really well in Knocked Up, so you shouldn’t be surprised by how good their chemistry is together on screen.
There are a lot of bit players in the movie, but the one that sticks out the most is Albert Brooks as Pete’s dad, Larry. Larry is caught in a situation where he is now dependent on Pete for money and Pete can no longer take care of his father like he used to. Brooks’ character neither takes the role of a protagonist or an antagonist, instead you kind of pity his character while at the same time despising him. He’s a like a smart ass with a heart of gold.
Most of the acting in the film is good, and for the most part there is nothing in the movie that would tarnish it, but I did see some problems with Iris Apatow, Judd Apatow’s daughter. There are moments in the film where she does a really good job, but for the most part her character is kind of annoying. I hope I don’t come off as mean, but I just don’t feel that her acting is strong enough in some scenes and as a result it sometimes hurts the film.
It should be noted that while I wasn’t too pleased with Iris Apatow’s performance, I did enjoy her older sister’s (Maude Apatow) performance. Maybe it’s because she’s older or maybe she just has a better understanding of acting as a craft. Either way, she does a good job.
Going into this film you may be wondering what Apatow will be going for with This is 40. Will he be more dramatic like in Funny People? Or will he try to be more comedic like in The 40-Year-Old Virgin? Well, This is 40 feels closer to Knocked Up, but with a more serious vibe. Jokes are still funny and certain situations are more light hearted than others, but in the end it doesn’t feel as hilarious as The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Up, which is okay.
It seems like a lot of people are afraid of change, and the idea that Apatow may be growing up is a little off-putting to people, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I wouldn’t want to see him do the same silly movie over and over again. The story is still great and the characters are still interesting, it’s just that comedically it’s not as strong as his earlier films.
If you’re going into This is 40 hoping that you’ll be laughing so hard that you’ll run out of air and pass out then you will be sorely disappointed. However, the movie is pretty interesting on its own and does tend to give a good chuckle every now and then. I suppose the average Judd Apatow fan is now at a crossroads and needs to find out if they want to continue to follow Apatow as he grows as an artist or if they would rather stick with his sillier work.
Quentin Tarintino is a huge fan of 70s exploitation films. You can see it in a lot of his work and in most of his interviews. Django Unchained brings together the classic westerns from the mid to late 60s with the classic Blaxploitation and ultra-violent films of the 70s. It’s like Tarintino is paying homage to the films that meant a lot to him during his impressionable years.
Django Unchained is the story of Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who is saved by Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) in order to collect a bounty on the head of a few thieves. On their journey Schultz begins to mentor Django and promises to reunite him with his wife. However, this leads them to the eccentric and ruthless plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is in possession of Django’s wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).
Since Django Unchained is somewhat of a Western, the cinematography has to be top-notch. It’s one of the things that define Westerns. Vast open areas and beautiful scenes on the prairie are what make Westerns so great, and Django Unchained delivers on the beautiful cinematography. In fact there is a scene at what seems like the Rocky Mountains that is just jaw dropping. While it may not be the standard Western by traditional standards, it does offer cinematography just as good as the classic Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns of yesteryear.
The violence in Django is great, it not only captures your eye because of the bullet holes going through everyone, but Tarintino doesn’t shy away from the brutality that slaves were going through at the time. Tarintino could have gone two ways with his depiction of southern plantations at the time, he could have: A) Worked around it and showed as little as he could as not offend anyone or B) Showed what slaves were actually going through at this time and not cop out last minute. Thankfully he went with the latter.
The violence towards slaves in the film isn’t just there as a way to shock you either. Flashback scenes where Django is begging for his wife not to be whipped are filmed perfectly and help make the movie feel like more than just a violent Western. Although I’m sure this film pays its respect to exploitation films of the past, it feels like the material in the film is something more than just your regular exploitation violence. There is substance in the violence shown in the film.
Now there is some great acting in this film, but two actors really stick out. The first actor to stick out is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie. Boy, is he good at playing evil. More than menacing, DiCaprio plays Calvin as sort of a southern playboy who buys slaves just so that he can make them fight to the death for his own amusement. Something has to be said about a character who revels in just how malicious he is. Calvin Candie may become one of my favorite villains of this generation, he can go from calm and cool to off the wall in a manner of moments, and he always regains his complexion.
Samuel L. Jackson is the second actor to stick out to me. His character, Stephen, is the main…uh, House Negro in the film and is very dedicated to his master, Calvin Candie. However, Stephen is just plain evil. He goes out of his way to make a scene when Django first shows up on Candie’s plantation and continues to do whatever he can to interrupt Django on his mission to save his wife. Jackson can be really funny in this role from time to time. In fact most of the laughs coming from the crowd in the movie theater were during Jackson’s rants in the film. Much like DiCaprio’s Candie, Jackson’s Stephen can switch back and forth between gleeful and menacing without missing a beat.
However, it was the two heroes in the film that I found to be somewhat dull. While Foxx showed some range in emotion in the film, it wasn’t anything amazing. I remember when Will Smith was supposed to be a part of this film, personally I don’t know if it would have been better or worse with him. Foxx did a good job, but it wasn’t anything special.
Now as for the case of Christoph Waltz, I think he did rather well, but as the movie progressed it seemed like his character started to change in unsuspected ways. Near the end of the movie his character makes a weird decision that seems really out of place. I think Waltz did the best he could with the character, and he is rather charismatic as Schultz, but it’s nowhere near as good as his character in Inglorious Basterds.
The music in the movie gave me mixed feelings. While I enjoy the music from Ennio Morricone and different country music artists in the film, there were times when I was brought right out of the film when out of nowhere there was some hip-hop track being played onscreen. The only song that was somewhat modern that I agreed with had to be Richie Havens’ Freedom. Anyone who has ever seen Woodstock will know just how powerful this song is, and it’s played perfectly to a certain scene.
The movie is somewhat long, and while this is what I expect from Tarintino movies, there were certain scene that could have been edited down a tad bit. That said, there weren’t a lot of them. This movie is justified in how long it is and it never drags to the point where you’ll start checking you phone to see what time it is. Since the dialogue is so good, I was never bored with what was going on.
Spike Lee has said that he will not watch Django Unchained because, “…It’s disrespectful to my ancestors, to see that film.” While I can understand where Lee is coming from in his statement, I feel that Tarintino is doing something similar to what Blaxploitation directors did during the 70s. They found that there was a market for heroes whose skin color wasn’t white and decided that that role could be made with or without Hollywood’s help. You could also state that even the heroes in the films eventually became stereotypes themselves, but at the end of the day they were trying to make an alternative hero for the masses, and make a couple bucks while doing it. I’m not black, so really I have no say in the matter. I just think Lee should give Django a chance and if he’s offended, stick with what he believes.
Django Unchained is a great movie and if you’re a Tarintino fan then there should be nothing stopping you from seeing the movie. Although it deals with some controversial subjects, one shouldn’t be afraid to give it a watch. There are quite a few “N” bombs in the film, and the violence is pretty graphic, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying what is actually a really good love story and probably the best Western to come out in years.
In the realm of fantasy J.R.R. Tolkien stands above everyone else when it comes to love and admiration. (Even Gary Gygax pales in comparison.) His Lord of the Rings novels are some of the most influential books to ever be written, and The Hobbit is where that legacy began.
Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy brought an entirely new generation of fans to Tolkien’s work. One can even be as bold to say that his films are almost as important to the legacy of Tolkien’s work as Tolkien’s novels themselves. Jackson’s films weren’t the first Lord of the Rings films to ever be made, animation legends Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass (Rankin/Bass) and Ralph Bakshi have both given their interpretations of Tolkien’s material, but neither have received the same amount of success that Jackson has.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey finds a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) joining a group of dwarves led by their leader, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) on their journey to reclaim their home from a vicious dragon named Smaug. While Bilbo is hesitant at first, he eventually comes to terms with the task he has been given and joins the dwarves on their adventure.
Beautiful. That’s the first word that comes to mind when you experience the lush and amazing world of Middle-earth. Jackson’s previous trilogy were just as beautiful, but upon watching The Hobbit you rekindle the same love for the land of Middle-earth that you did when you first saw The Lord of the Rings. It’s still amazing to see places that look as beautiful as this still exist on earth.
The acting in The Hobbit is well done, Ian McKellen does just as good a job in this film as he did in the previous Lord of the Rings films, but there was never really any doubt that he wouldn’t do a solid job as Gandalf, a role he now owns.
Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins exceptionally, the subtle changes that Bilbo receives as he grows as a character are accomplished by Freeman. While Bilbo may be hesitant and a little cranky in the beginning of the film, he eventually grows into a more noble and heroic character. Freeman does a wonderful job of showing the evolution of this character in the first act of the trilogy.
Richard Armitage also does a wonderful job as the prince without a throne, Thorin Oakenshield. While dwarves have always kind of been represented as thick headed idiots (A stereotype that persists in this film), Thorin is represented differently, he is a proud dwarf who wishes to bring his people back to the level of prosperity that they once knew. Usually a character this well thought out would be reserved for a character much taller in stature, but it’s nice to see it be given to a much shorter hero.
The music composed by Howard Shore is excellent. Well deserving of attention from anyone willing to give out awards for music in film. It holds the title of ‘epic’ so much, no other word can describe it as perfectly as that. Listen to Misty Mountains (Cold), it’s almost impossible not to get chills while listening to this music. If this doesn’t at least some recognition from the Academy Awards, then all hope is truly lost.
Not everything is perfect in the film however, the CGI is real hit and miss, with some orcs (Mainly the film’s antagonist) looking too cartoony for the film. While Gollum (Andy Serkis) still looked amazing and seemed to be the stand out point for the CGI in the film, I couldn’t help but be turned off by some of the other CGI in the film. It doesn’t detract too much from the movie, but it’s something that pretty much every film snob in the world will complain about once they see The Hobbit.
Another thing that may deter you from enjoying the film is how stupid some of the dwarves may act. Once again, it’s nothing huge, and there isn’t a lot of bumbling idiocy running amok in the film, but you will find some of the dwarves to be rather stupid. Or you might actually like their care free spirit, it’s something that I don’t think everyone will agree on.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a film that I didn’t think I would enjoy when I first saw its trailers and commercials. (Perhaps it was because whoever was in charge of editing those trailers and commercials decided to make the film seem more light-hearted than it actually was.) However, after seeing the movie I was pleasantly surprised. Peter Jackson has once again created a Tolkien adaptation that he can be proud of.
They could totally use the Misfits song of the same name! That would have gotten twice as many people to see the film if they did that instead. Seems like a waste of a concept to me…
Paul Thomas Anderson may be my favorite director of my generation. Yes, I’m including others like Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, and anyone else you want to bring up. He may not have a lot of movies under his belt, but quite honestly I’ve never been let down by any of his films. I even stole a large promotional poster of There Will Be Blood because I love his films so much. I bring all this up because I want you to know going into this review that my love for PTA may cause some bias. I won’t lie about anything, but I really do enjoy his films.
The Master takes place post-WWII, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Pheonix) is finding it incredibly hard to fit in with the rest of society (A task that isn’t helped by his inventive way of getting wasted all the time) and seems to be spiraling out of control. Quell’s life seems to be disheartening until he winds up on a boat that belongs to Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd is interested in Quell, noting that he’s seen Quell before in his life, he’s just not sure where.
Joaquin Pheonix’ portrayal of Freddie Quell is powerful, there’s no question about that. I don’t know what Quell’s mental problem in the film is, I was thinking maybe he had Asperger’s Syndrome, or maybe he was just really affected by the war and has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or maybe he’s just a real jerk-not sure. As I said before this isn’t helped by how much he drinks. However, after Quell meets up with Dodd and begins to slowly try to change himself you can see the pain he goes through. He wants to fit in, but it’s in no way easy for him.
Unfortunately Freddie Quell does come off as somewhat of a jerk, and I could see why someone wouldn’t like the character. He can be incredibly crass and sometimes downright mean. This can be taken two ways, either you can hate the character and see him as nothing but a nuisance, or you can appreciate it much more to see the struggle that he goes through. I chose the latter, but I can understand why someone would just be turned off the character. To each their own.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the Lancaster Dodd role perfectly. He’s incredibly nice and charismatic for the majority of the film, but there are moments where he captures the entire attention of a room with a boost of his voice. Dodd’s character plays somewhat of a father figure to Quell. He’s constantly trying to better Quell as an individual, even when others around him have already given up on Quell, saying he’s nothing more than a lost cause.
Hoffman’s portrayal of Dodd is probably going to be the first performance of the year to really get Oscar buzz. (That’s not saying that Joaquin Pheonix doesn’t deserve recognition for his role.) I would be surprised if he was not at least nominated for an Academy Award.
While there are a lot of good actors with smaller roles in the film, Amy Adams probably sticks out the most. She plays Peggy Dodd, Lancaster’s wife. It may be that it was the intensity that she brought to her character, but she does steal some scenes that she’s in. One scene in question has her pressing Lancaster on how dangerous she feels Quell is. It’s funny, but it does get her point across.
Now, while the film does take inspiration from the early years of Scientology, it’s important to note that this film really isn’t about Scientology. Yes, that’s the backdrop, but the film really does feel like a character piece of a man who is going through a transitional period in his life. He finds a religion that accepts him and even tries to better him, that’s what the story is really about. (At least that’s what I think it’s about…)
Real quick, I want to give admiration to Jonny Greenwood and Mihai Malaimare Jr. The cinematography in The Master is great and is worth watching just for how the scenes are set up. It’s just a really pretty film. The music from Jonny Greenwood is also very good, however it didn’t stick out as much as it did in There Will Be Blood.
While I enjoyed the film, I don’t feel that this is PTA’s magnum opus. The pace in this moviegoes at a slow to medium speed and never really leaves that pace. I know that can be a real problem for some movie goers, so it has that going against it. Besides that, I see no real problem with the film. It’s incredibly good, but not my favorite PTA film. It’s still worth a watch for any fan of PTA or anyone who enjoys a good story with great performances from all the principal actors.
I’m usually against remakes. Why put money into remaking an already good movie when you could create something new? And if you wanted to remake something, why not remake a bad movie that had an interesting plot or a promising story that wasn’t pulled off that well the first time? So you should probably know that I was against the Total Recall remake since I first heard that it was going to be remade. The only thing that made me want to give this movie a chance was that Bryan Cranston was going to play Cohaagen, and Bryan Cranston is pretty bad ass…
Total Recall is based on the Philip K. Dick short story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. The story revolves around Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) who decides one day that he’s tired of his boring average life and goes to Rekall for a new experience. Some things go awry and it turns out that Douglas Quaid isn’t who he thinks he is.
The movie has some solid acting, but besides Bryan Cranston, no one really stands out. Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel all just seem so bored in the movie. Even when they’re in trouble they don’t seem to emote that well.
I enjoyed Cranston’s performance of Cohaagen, but he doesn’t seem to be in the movie enough to praise him as much as I’d like to. He kind of just shows up, yells, and then leaves. It’s not very exciting and seems like a waste of a great actor.
The special effects stand out the most in the film. The world that Quaid lives in is much different than in the original, it seems that since most of the world is decimated that people have to move up into more cramped spaces. It has some interesting ideas on how people get from one area to another that I don’t think could have been done in the past.
The action scenes are pretty nice, but they won’t really stick out, especially if you pit it against the original movie. They can be exciting and suspenseful, but rarely is there anything in the film that will make you feel like our heroes won’t be able to make it out alive.
There are a few nods to the original film, and it’s nice to see them, but this may actually hurt the film. When you see these nods toward the past film you can’t help but remember the original fondly, and when you see them you start picking holes in the new movie. The remake should have started out fresh, but it’s still too strongly tied to the original that any nods that it makes to the original just makes you yearn to see the original all over again.
I’ll admit that I’m a really big fan of the original Arnold Schwarzenegger film, so there probably is bias in this review, but it just wasn’t as fun as the original. It had some good ideas and it has Bryan Cranston, but it just doesn’t feel complete.
If you wanted to see this movie, then you’ve probably have seen it by now. If however you were on the fence about the movie, then stay away. You’ll probably catch it on FX in a year or two, it’s rated PG-13 anyway. Don’t worry, in 30 seconds you’ll be dead and I’ll blow this place up and be home in time for corn flakes!
Yeah, this is kind of a biased review…oh well!