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A bold, stylish and energetic film

Posted : 3 years, 5 months ago on 7 January 2014 02:47 (A review of American Hustle)

When your screenplay is yet to be produced and it is named American Bullshit, you know it is only a matter of time before curiosity sparks and there is a very dark toned comedy to be made. Combining the dark subject matter with the style of the 70's big hair, open front dress and wild suits you create a winning combination.

Irving Rosenfeld along with his partner Sydney Prosser are con-artists taking money from people and selling fake art. They are brought into a wild scheme when FBI agent Rich DiMaso wants to bring down some government officials. Richie gets himself in over his head and soon the three of them are scrambling to find a way out.

Stylish,smart and wildly sophisticated, American Hustle is such a fun film. As it develops and you find yourself entangled in the messes of each elaborate scheme, there is an engrossing energy that sweeps over you. During the first act, you seem lost, wanting them film to find itself and part way through the second act it does find its stride and not a moment too late. Despite the minor flaw during the first act, it quickly corrects itself and sets up a fantastic final act filled with double crossing and manipulation.

David O. Russell combines the look and feel of the 70's era with a fictionalized throwback to a scandal that actually took place, even taking time out to remind us that some of the events transpiring during said film did in fact happen. The surprising elements of comedy are what kept this film moving at a high frequency, taking sudden tonal shifts in order to accurately depict the true nature of the situation at hand. Russell is a hard hitting film maker, borrowing his impeccable style from old Scorsese gangster pictures and paying homage to some of the best works of all time. Russell put his film in good hands with the chameleon Christian Bale taking on the lead role, gaining 40 pounds and slouching so bad he actually herniated two discs in his back. His comb-over is ridiculous, his suits loud and his personality one of a kind. Adams compliments him just perfectly, wearing open front dresses and screaming seductive right from the beginning. Cooper is the wild card of the film, his character the one desperately trying to gain himself a name amongst his peers. Cooper is often wild and insane, his hair only the beginning of the ridiculousness.

All of these actors gave off fine performances, but there was one stand out performance that knocked them all out of the park. Jennifer Lawrence was by far the best part of the film, her manipulative Rosalyn keeping Irving at arms length. She was devilish, her performance very much accentuated by her bold accent and her characters vixen like qualities made her an absolute treat. If this performance does not score Lawrence back to back Academy Award wins, someone was not paying attention to how absolutely phenomenal she looked and how engaging each and every scene she was in ended up being. She gave the film a sense of tension when things were already heating up. She never knew when to stop, her indulgence getting the best of her. Such a deep and game changing character, and for an actress as young as Lawrence to walk in and steal the spot light, it such a fun thing to see. At just 23 years of age to watch her perform on a such a high level was one of the most delightful moments of film in a long time. This girl is going to be on that stage accepting awards year after year if she keeps giving performances like this one.

American Hustle is one of those films that has moments of pure excitement, full of richly timed dark witted comedy, and moments of pure intensity, highlighted by the every growing sense that somewhere things wouldn't turn out alright for everyone involved. It opts for a more comedic and traditional ending, bringing closure to each one of these characters. It kind of takes away from the mystical allure this film carried through-out, almost ruining the high stakes atmosphere that helped elevate the second act. At times without such invigorating style and lavish 70's feel, it would have been just another modern film. It's quite the spectacle when the era in which the film takes place can also ultimately become the saving grace of the film. Perhaps it is because this film actual scandal took place during the same era in which the film is set, but something about the 70's era, the music, the lights, the sounds, the characters it all just looked good, like a couple wearing a luxurious dress and a stylish tuxedo to the gala.


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Infectiously funny R-Rated Romp.

Posted : 3 years, 6 months ago on 28 December 2013 03:14 (A review of The Wolf of Wall Street)

Jordan Belfort: My name is Jordan Belfort. The year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.

There is always a unique perspective and a brand that comes a long with a Martin Scorsese picture. One that takes us on an adventure. It allows us to completely forget about time and the things going on around us. He creates a vivid world to display on the screen, one full of grand characters and larger than life scenarios. There is never a dull moment in a Martin Scorsese picture, and The Wolf of Wall Street may just be the most engaging to date.

Jordan Belfort is a Long Island penny stock broker who uses his profession to create a get rich quick scheme for himself and his friends. As Jordan begins to live the high life, he becomes entangled in a web of corruption, drugs and lies which ultimately lead to his downfall.

Grand on every level. Vivacious women, extensive party scenes and uproarious humour that will have you almost in tears. The Wolf of Wall Street is as perfect a film as you can possibly have. The outlandish antics of Jordan Belfort and his crew are loud, obnoxious and in your own face which is exactly the way you want it because of how damn rewarding it is to watch on the big screen.

Scorsese has a plethora of talent on display in this film, collaborating for the fifth time with the sensational Leonardo DiCaprio in what could their most dynamic yet. DiCaprio proves he has versatility in this film, shedding his trademark dramatic display and proving he his timely comedic chops and impeccable taste in scripts. Jonah Hill provides a complimentary supporting performance that brings the antics and debauchery in this film to a whole new level. However, the spark of this film comes from DiCaprio's energy and chemistry with leading lady Margot Robbie. Her prominent accent adding a layer to her fine performance, while allowing any judgement of her simply being a sex symbol to be thrown out the window. She is absolutely gorgeous don't get me wrong, but the 23 year old is set to become a power house in the industry after keeping up with the likes of DiCaprio, Hill, McConaughey and others. Their is a spark of pure excitement when she shares the screen with DiCaprio, her fiestiness apparent in each line she delivers. She allows DiCaprio to display some of his most nuanced work in years, which is huge for his chances of finally scoring that coveted Academy Award.

Under Scorsese's direction these two are able to flourish and allow for this film to fly by with ease. It's a journey through the trials and tribulations of Jordan Belfort's desires to be rich and conquer the corporate world. When greed gets the better of him, we see Jordan buying extravagantly and losing focus on the real world. He becomes a caricature of his own being when he begins to pop pills left and right in order to maintain his party lifestyle. He just wants more and more, and will buy and sell anything to anyone in order to get it.

It really is the complete film package. Full of themes including friendship, love, lust, corruption and betrayal the Wolf of Wall Street serves to be not only one of the funniest films of 2013 but one of the most dynamic. Scorsese re-creates the lavish world in which Belfort created for himself with stunning precision and care. Of course much of it was exaggerated for film purposes, but it allows for a sleek, stylish and promiscuous R-Rated romp. Easily the best character driven film of 2013, Scorsese has created another generational masterpiece, one that fully captures a part of American society. A film that is fast paced so that you never really feel the three hour run time, it leaves you entertained and surprised that a film can actually be this good and this bold in it's sexual nature and story telling methods. It's a grand film on many levels, but the idea remains a very small one that grows because of the way in which Scorsese and his actors bring life to their characters.

Definitely one of the must see films from 2013, for fans of the DiCaprio/Scorsese collaborations of the past, you will most definitely enjoy this one. It is a refreshing spin on their body of work together and it offers a chance to see DiCaprio showcase his fine acting in a more multifaceted and demanding role. Everything about this film is purely delightful, from Scorsese's masterful direction and the raw and crude wit of Terrence Winter's script, The Wolf of Wall Street is more then just a film, it is a three hour journey into the heart and soul of the American dream.


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An engaging directorial debut for JGL

Posted : 3 years, 6 months ago on 19 December 2013 04:38 (A review of Don Jon)

It's been a while since the audiences were treated to an edgier side of Romance, and 2013's Don Jon written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt is finally a film that explores new territory even if it still follows the same traditional formula of other romance films.

Jon “Don Jon” Martello likes a few things in life, his ride, his pad, his girls, his family and his porn. That all changes when he lays eyes on Barbara Sugarman and his pursuit of her is more then just a one night stand. As Jon and Barbara's relationship begins to grow, they begin to wonder if the media and films have painted an unrealistic stereotype for relationships.

JGL was the perfect choice for the starring role as well as writer/director on this film. He carries the film, his accent a bit over the top at times and the repetitive nature of the film showing how people get caught up in a routine was flawless. Everyone is out searching for their one true love, and for Jon he thinks he finds that in Barbara. JGL's smooth and confident performance is one of the reasons this film works so well. The other is the impeccable casting job done to fill the film with minor characters to help complete the story for Jon. Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Barbara, giving off an aura of conceited beauty. This character knows she has got it going on and Scarlett portrays that in one of the finer performances of her career thus far. Her accent is near perfect as well, perhaps even better then JGL's at times and her character is very superficial, only looking for a man that will do things for her not someone she can love and care for.

The film really comes a live with the introduction of Julianne Moore in the second act. A real treat, she adds a layer of complexity to a film that was before hand all about sex and pornography. She adds in the human aspect of learning to grow as a person. She provides an escape for Jon, having recently been through a traumatic experience of her own, she is honest and open with Jon about his expectations and how they don't add up in reality. She brings out another layer in JGL's performance that brings the character full circle in a sense. His eyes become open to what making love is, instead of just having sex to claim you scored the hot chick. Moore's role in this film is not only the catalyst that changes the way Jon handles his every day life, but she also adds the emotional stability. Most of the events before her entry were purposely superficial, because Jon and Barbara really didn't know much about each other and really didn't have the same outlook on life.

Even though it follows the same formula as other romantic comedies the R-Rating sure does help Don Jon become a much more fun film. Having no restrictions on the amount of realistic profanity dropped in the course of 90 minutes and the explicit sexual scenes shown, it really is a film about expectations and realities and how men sometimes get caught up in their own world of sex and forget to try for a real relationship. It's often a parody of the Jersey Shore lifestyle, which allows for Don Jon to go a bit over board during the party scenes. It never really feels forced and adds a good balance of social commentary.

It's a film about male sexuality, male aggression and the almost impossible realities men put on finding the right woman. It's a film that should be watched by men coming into their own. As you watch Jon and his two best friends played by Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke, you can't help but feel the authenticity of the film. The three men razz one another about their preferred choice in women and it feels real and honest.

Don Jon surprised me with how much of the 90 minute run time was refreshing and exciting. To cover so much in a limited time frame is incredible. Don Jon was one of the years most thought-filled and original films, that plays the stereotypes of gender roles perfectly but tells the story from the opposite view point then many films of this nature.


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Edgy and gripping. Top notch acting all around!

Posted : 3 years, 6 months ago on 17 December 2013 12:54 (A review of Out of the Furnace)

2013's Out of the Furnace is another fine example of how putting together a tight cast can mean bringing life to a film. It is easily one of the darkest films of 2013, showing a grittier side to America and how far some people can descend before they have hit rock bottom.

Russell Baze is an every day working man, living from paycheck to paycheck desperately seeking a better life for himself and his brother Rodney. After a car accident lands Russell in prison for drinking and driving, his brother starts getting involved with organized crime and an underground fighting ring. After Russell is released and Rodney goes missing, Russell decides to take matters into his own hands.

Christian Bale has proven to be a very versatile actor, even willing to put his health on the line. Despite all the weight loss he has done in the past to take on roles, his role in Out of the Furnace may not be his most physically demanding but it is certainly near the top of his career performances so far. Subtle and driven, Bale grounds his character in a shocking amount of realism and very intense emotions. Affleck is the emotional center piece in which the film is based. Is temperamental Rodney Baze just continues to find himself in more and more trouble as he spirals out of control. Bale and Affleck are both terrific as the story builds. Bale showing vulnerability and acceptance for the wrong he has done his family and the people he cared about, while Affleck's Rodney becomes darker, more despressed and less focused on finding a viable solution to his ever growing problems.

Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana and Forest Whitaker help round out the cast of characters in what is by far on of the most simple yet striking films of 2013. Gutsy in every bold move it made, from the realistic depression setting in on the economically fragile town the Baze brothers call home, the bare knuckle sounds of punches and elbows connecting in the fight scenes and the drug use later on in the film. Each scene provided a look into seedy America and how easily someone can lose themselves when they don't have much going to begin with.

Perhaps a bit formulaic in the way it begins to unravel the story of Rodney in the second half of the film. It uses old techniques, where Russell is the only person unaware of what truly happened to his brother for a period of time. Despite using this tactic, Christian Bale was able to corral the film back in with his fine display of acting when he is called to the police station to deal with his brothers disappearance. Despite using the typical developmental strategy for a film of this nature, Out of the Furnace remains very bold in it's story telling and characterization. Light on action scenes, aside from the few fight scenes and the sequence near the end, Out of the Furnace provides a bleak narration on how easily men who came from a hard working middle class family have nothing left because of how badly the economy is becoming in America.

At one point during the middle of the movie when Russell and his ex-girlfriend Lena finally see each other, we are given the moral center of this story in a nutshell. She mentions to Russell that the Mill his father worked for and that he is now working for is closing down and he simply just responds with a simple line about how it is looking that way. It's simple in it's delivery, simple in it's execution and isn't a major part of the film, but it serves a major purpose in creating the tense atmosphere that Rodney finds himself a part of. Rodney as described in the film did 4 tours in Iraq and now needs to fight to gain a little bit of extra cash, even though during another of the films pivotal emotional sequences he displays a scar that runs about seven or eight inches long and gives a speech about how terrifying his time in Iraq was.

Easily one of the best stories of 2013, Out of the Furnace relies on the ability of it's cast to help bring home the grit of the story on display. Bale and Affleck have perhaps never been better, and Harrelson does a fine job playing the films main villainous role. Definitely a must see.


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Emotional, Uncomfortable but essential viewing.

Posted : 3 years, 7 months ago on 24 November 2013 05:11 (A review of 12 Years a Slave)

When tasked with re-creating a real life story, directors must keep the foundation of the story while adding just the right touch of film magic in order to create something special. When taking in 2013's 12 Years a Slave everything about this film seems generally authentic and emotional, the only thing used to enhance the experience is a beautiful cinematography that accentuates the feel of the harrowing experience being translated to the screen.

Solomon Northup is a free man living in upstate New York, until one night he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Solomon pleads his case, but the ruthless plantation owners will not hear him out and soon Solomon is either forced to accept his new life or be killed.

Director Steve McQueens cinematography is what helped recreate the look of the mid 1800's. Showing the churning wheels of the riverboat as it leaves symmetrical lines across the distant ocean, or the sun rise and brisk Louisiana morning each of these visuals helped transition to some of the most emotional scenes in a long time. Easily the most uncomfortable viewing of 2013 thus far, McQueen doesn't shy away from the brutality these men and women suffered at the hands off their ruthless plantation owners. It will undoubtedly make even the most hardened person look away and wince. There was more then one occasion when the violence was just too intense to keep your eyes focused on the screen. McQueen did this in order to fundamentally recreate how horrible these situations must have been to live through during these times.

Lead by Chiwetel Ejiofor in what will probably be a career defining performance from him, 12 Years a Slave is a film that benefits from big time actors playing smaller parts in order to make this film a complete and essential viewing. Actors such as Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson and Brad Pitt had very little screen time but they kept this film flowing at a much needed quick pace. Other then of course Ejiofor the actor who stepped up their game and delivered was Michael Fassbender. It is not at all surprising that Fassbender gave off another defining performance. His intensity and his brutality was downright chilling. He put every ounce of energy into breathing life into his very violent and self destructive character. There were times when Fassbender and Ejiofor shared the screen together and you could feel the level of intensity growing, each actor giving everything they had to this film that is perhaps the most complete film about that era in US history. While Ejiofor's performance was courageous and sentimental, Fassebender was barbarous and cold. His unforgiving facial expressions easily sent chills down your spine. He is quickly proving himself to be one of the most sought after actors currently working. He has proven time and time again he is willing to go the extra mile in order to help elevate the film.

This film has easily emerged as the front runner for best picture at next years Academy Awards ceremony. Fassbender, Ejifor should easily score acting nominations and McQueen will most likely score a nomination and a win for best director. It is easily the most photographic of any film witnessed this year. It blends characters, images, and dialogue to near perfection. In 10 years from now when a list of classic historically accurate films depicting America through the years is formed, this film will be on it and sitting near the top of that list.

A film worthy of a view. It's emotional range and characters never fault and each and every actor present in this film plays a part in recreating the true story of Solomon Northup. Despite the often discomfort felt during violent scenes, 12 Years a Slave remains a definite must see for any fan of cinema.


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No Plot, No Characters, One boring movie.

Posted : 3 years, 7 months ago on 23 November 2013 03:37 (A review of Paranoia)

An espionage thriller is supposed to be engaging, full of twists and turns that you didn't see coming. Everything about 2013's Paranoia was visible right from the moment the movie began. It's really too bad that the audience is forced to sit through a mess of techno-babble and campy acting in order to realize this film is going nowhere.

A young hotshot tech employee falls into a grand scheme of lies and corruption, spearheaded by the two biggest billionaires in the industry. When he is tasked with stealing insider trade info, the young superstar must learn to play the part even if it could cost him everything.

When you put together of a film of this nature, it is expected that their be cheap thrills and little pay-off. This films talks about being original and being innovative, yet it does nothing to remain fresh and entertaining and generally succumbs to the same old cliches we have seen before. That starts with pretty boy Hemsworth playing a young hot shot looking to score big money and quickly. This is always the front first move in order to make us identify with the main character, because it paints them automatically as callous and superficial. Who really wants to buy into that world? Certainly not an audience hoping to be entertained by it. The second cliche was aiming the techo-babble at people who would see right through it. Fast talking about a bunch of things that are meaningless don't help sell your one dimensional characters, it just drags the film further away from having any emotional investment.

The biggest mistake that occurs in this film is even having Hemsworth or Heard in it at all. Amber Heard can act, she has proven that before in films such as the Rum Diary and The Informers. Except in this film everything that came out of either of their mouths seemed like a pathetic attempt at a romantic subplot in order to give the audience some much needed reason to care about these characters at all. The only reason we kept watching is too see Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman share a little bit of screentime together and that really wasn't even worth the near two hours this film runs at.

Everything about this film has been before, from the elaborate attempted heist, to the shady ruthless businessmen who will stop at nothing to be on top of the world and of course the pretty faces taking on the lead roles. Paranoia definitely doesn't serve itself as a delicious treat about how technology can be our worst enemy and used against us, it just reminds us that sometimes the younger generations are too caught up in the moment and fail to see how a good social interaction can be much more beneficial then trying to get to know someone via a mobile device. Perhaps even digging that far into the film was too much of a stretch, but that was perhaps the only message this film delivered, money and power aren't everything and the moment we loose touch with reality is the moment we lose track of who we are all together.

So far this probably the worst film of 2013, because of all the cliched elements involved in making a film that no one cares about after the first twenty minutes. The younger Hemsworth proves to be a stale draw and for much of the film he serves as the middle man between two actors who at least tried to add a little spark to a film that otherwise had none. Liam Hemsworth is not leading man quality the way his brother his. Perhaps it is not entirely his fault, some of it lies on the writers for boxing his character in so early on with a terrible opening narration and then a downward spiral that perhaps no actor could have saved. The younger Hemsworth could prove to be an asset to a film if they stray away from the pretty boy antics and into the zone of characterization for the young man. Definitely stay away from this film, it makes absolutely no attempt to more then a run of the mill espionage thriller, and espionage usually means well thought out and meticulous.


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Lavish, Hyper Sexualized and long winded.

Posted : 3 years, 8 months ago on 28 October 2013 02:12 (A review of The Counselor)

Cormac McCarthy is no stranger to the big screen, two of his hit novels have been hugely popular in the past few years. Now his first spec script titled The Counselor has been turned into a a feature film, which came with an A-List cast. That could spell an instant hit, but The Counselor has many reasons why it could one of the best movies of the year, while simultaneously being a misfire on so many levels.

A lawyer known only as The Counselor decides to get himself involved in the drug trafficking business, with the help of some of his contacts. Dealing primarily with Reiner and Malkina, a dynamic powerhouse couple akin to the lavish lifestyle and Westray, a womanizing middle man the Counselor decides that 20,000,000 dollars is worth the risk.

Hyper sexualized and lavish, The Counselor doesn't jump to the quickest of starts. We are thrown into a hotel room where Fassbender and Cruz spend the opening scene talking dirty to one another and it never really has a sense of purpose. It shifts to Reiner and Malkina, one a man who doesn't know when to stop, accepting that greed will one day be his downfall and the other a former exotic dancer incapable of displaying human emotions. An interesting set of characters, downright engaging from a fan aspect if you really dig deep enough to think about. Take into consideration that the talents of Fassbender, Cruz, Bardem and Diaz are in the mix and that seems to spell a sure win for a film that has so many layers within the opening 25 minutes. Yet, somehow Cormac McCarthy is able to extend the absurdity to a level beyond comprehension before attempting to reel the film in for a thrilling final act.

One upon viewing this film could argue it is not meant to be the most engaging visual films of the year. A valid point indeed, it sure was meant to be a character piece; one that focused primarily on whether or not these people knew their own limits. However, the problem lies in the long winded dialogue which seemed focused on making a point using metaphors and allegories that didn't fit into the scope of this film. At the heart of it all was a story about risking it all and the risk not paying dividends. Somewhere in that simplicity lies a convoluted message of lust, sex and betrayal and always being one step ahead of everyone else. A note to the producers and McCarthy and that is in the future an A-List cast does not mask the inability to figure out your convoluted message. Unfortunately for all the things that were done right, there was too many that were done wrong and it becomes a blurry mess of tying up loose ends and themes before the final curtain closes.

What this film does right are the smaller moments. The scenes of gratuitous violence are chilling, eerily straight forward and efficiently productive in guiding the plot to it's ultimate destination. Fassbender provides a performance that is worthy of praise on many levels. As the film progresses, Fassbenders interpretation of a desperate man leaves chills running down your spine. When the man breaks down on screen you feel every bit of his emotion coursing through the performance. Brad Pitt is also a great presence in this film, allowing growth to a character that had a very small purpose in the overall plot. Pitt added his own style of wit and charm allowing his character to go off on seemingly random tangents where he spoke of things he had seen and done and even rambled on about snuff films. Diaz had to the be the worst part, her emotionless character Malkina was a caricature of a real person. The scene displaying her overt sexuality on the hood of a ferarri was laugh worthy and the most pointless scene in film history. Her outlandish and overt personality coupled with Bardems insanely ridiculous hairdo created a villainous portrayal that just seemed too far out in left field.

The Counselor ultimately falls victims to it's own shortcomings in the writing department. Cormac McCarthy is widely known for his descriptive and bleak poetic prose. That failed to translate onto the screen, creating a cast of misfits using foreshadows and lyrical description to display their fears for one another. Where it fails is their fears never really feel three dimensional, they never pop from the screen in the way we have seen film of this nature do in the past. As poetic and exquisite as the dialogue attempted to be the visuals never really opened you eyes to those words. It never became more then a wordsmith attempting to use his words to give his characters definitive definition when they needed it most. Great writers open up their words to visual interpretation, but McCarthy's words were never given enough breathing room. They held powerful and meaningful thoughts, but they never gave way to haunting visuals to go a long with them.

The morbid aspect of The Counselor lies within the violence and the disturbing world in which these characters were encompassed. The world was fascinating, and the violence allowed for an abrupt disposable of these 2 dimensional characters. If you are thinking about watching this film, enter at your own risk. It is not all what is show in previews. That statement is not intended to have a negative or positive affect on anyone's future decision to view this film. To be completely frank, the Counselor did have moments of pure brilliance lead by Ridley Scott's direction of his more then willing stars. Definitely one of the most memorable films of 2013, whether you end up liking it or not.



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Grips you tight right from the opening frame.

Posted : 3 years, 8 months ago on 20 October 2013 02:58 (A review of Captain Phillips)

Tom Hanks has the potential to be a game changer in any film he is in. During Captain Phillips, he not only elevates his own game but he helps become part of a larger picture one that is focused on everyone involved.

Captain Richard Phillips is sailing a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia when he is crew are attacked by four pirates looking for money. Captain Phillips tries to out manoeuvre the pirates, but his ultimate goal is to make sure nothing happens to his crew.

There is always a sense of looming dread that is carried right from the opening frame until the final frame, but Captain Phillips hits the panic button when the pirates begin boarding the cargo ship. From that point on it is relentless, nerve racking and intense. It never allows you a moment to relax, breath and think everything might be alright. It keeps it's grip firmly planted, tightening around you as the experiences of Captain Phillips become tense. It's impossible not to feel completely immersed in the atmosphere as this film cuts you off from the real word and takes you on a horrific ride through a scenario that lasts only a couple of days but is so hardwired with cut throat intensity your pulse will be pounding by the time it is over.

As an entire film there moments of Captain Phillips that are drawn up Hollywoodized versions of the truth, but really when is that not the case? When it all begins to head for the climax, it seems rather focused on becoming one of those films that comes down to the final moments rather then about the people involved in the ordeal. That was the only time this film lost track of this being a character piece and not another Hollywood story. This actually happened in real life, out in the middle of African waters and it surely would have been the most harrowing experience of any mans life. There are moments when Tom Hanks is the key to upping the stakes and adding to the atmosphere, and there are times when Paul Greengrass succumbs to traditional action film tactics to remind us that Hollywood tends to do these type of thing in order to create a more dynamic conclusion.

Captain Phillips relies heavily on Tom Hanks being the sole member of the cast with a recognizable amount of fame, but at times they deviate from him being the central focus and allow for the Somalian characters to take a moment of spotlight, especially the leader played by Barkhad Abdi. His bony physique and sunken face make allow for his scenes of brutality to be more menacing, but even through out the entire ordeal Muse seems to have a genuine concern for the Captain of the American cargo ship. Abdi is able to counter balance Hanks' fervent performance, creating a character who's layers make you question why it all had to end up happening this way. Hanks may be the star and the lead actor who can carry the film no other , but it Abdi is the key piece to creating a film thats focus right from the start was more a study of the characters psyche during the ordeal then it was about time-honoured action expectancies.

Overall Captain Phillips stays the course, and provides a narrative that could quite possibly be one of the most compelling films of 2013 and an easy lock for a best picture nomination. If you stay the course with this film, and take the Hollywoodized scenes with the raw and gripping scenes you will find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat unable to take a moment to look away. You will absolutely be immersed in this engaging tale of survival, just remember to take a breath when it is all said and done.


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An absolute thrill ride.

Posted : 3 years, 8 months ago on 14 October 2013 01:59 (A review of Rush)

Ron Howard's Rush is the ultimate 2013 thrill ride. Full of spirit, determination and a real life rivalry Rush packs in the intensity and grips you so tight you will be on the edge of your seat by the time it is finished, and that is a guarantee.

James Hunt and Niki Lauda carried their rivalry into the 1976 season where Hunt wanted to prove he could beat Lauda. Hunt was the natural speedster of the two, often putting himself at risk to pull off a daring move. Lauda was the calculated one of the two using precision and aerodynamics to help him become world champion. That all came to a head during one race in 1976 when the conditions were poor and the race went ahead anyway. It took the word rivalry to a new meaning and created a showdown that was for the ages.

Rush was an absolute thrill ride. From the early stages of Formula 3 racing, a young hot headed James Hunt knew he had the potential to be a star. His characterization was perfect, a young speed demon with a pretty boy face and a party animal lifestyle that he had no intentions of stopping. Hemsworth was a good choice, combining his natural physique and his acting chops to a role that required both a sense of humour and a sense of determination. Daniel Bruhl was the stand-out as Niki Lauda, his look nearly identical to the pictures they showed of the real Lauda. His will, his courage and his ability to be tactical were all part of a brilliant second half that Bruhl dominated as far as acting goes. The second half was meant to be his show and he took centre stage and ran with it.

The action scenes were downright incredible, from the revving of the engines to the sounds of race-day, Ron Howard recreated their heated rivalry with incredible precision. As the cars flew around the track and Lauda and Hunt both traded wins you could feel the tension building to the thrilling climax and when thr Nurburgring scene approached there was a knot in your stomach. Despite the fact the scene set itself up with the ominous autograph and the drivers meeting the sense of dread left you hoping you for a better outcome. After that came Lauda's struggle with trying to get back into racing form, which was even harder to watch as the doctors peeled back the bandages and were forced to clean his lungs. That scene a lone made me look away from the screen and shiver. Niki Lauda was a daring man to get back in the car after only 42 days in the hospital. If Bruhl doesn't receive an Oscar nomination at least for nearly perfect transformation into Lauda there is something wrong with the Oscar decision process. His performance was inspiring due to the fact he recreated something that actually happened and he did so in a way that was entirely believable.

Rush could have a real shot at winning best picture. It has all the right pieces. A real life story, thrilling cinematography and performances that help shape the outcome of the film by adding a sense of realism and courage. Definitely a must see film, Ron Howard has created a visually stunning film that proves the heart of Hollywood is still alive and that honest and true film making is still a treat to behold.


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Way, Way to good to be passed up.

Posted : 3 years, 8 months ago on 9 October 2013 02:05 (A review of The Way Way Back)

Every so often there is a film that wows audiences with it's realistic heart and soul, 2013's The Way, Way Back is that film for this year. Not only does it have heart and soul, it captures the realism of being a teenager in those awkward growing years with near perfection.

14 year old Duncan is forced to spend the summer with his mom's new boyfriend whom he doesn't much care for. Duncan is shy, doesn't have a lot of friends and spends most his time a lone. After he meets Owen, the charismatic slacker manager of the local water park his summer changes. He finally has someone to talk and he begins to feel more confident.

Instantly The Way, Way Back just felt right. It is one of those small independent flicks that has all the right key pieces in all the right places. Written by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, who both make supporting appearances The Way, Way Back focuses on a young man's struggle to be comfortable with himself. Right away star Liam James made the audience feel for his protagonist Duncan by the way he carried himself around. His shoulders were slouched, his words were mumbled and he just looked downright miserable. As the film progresses Duncan begins to find his words better, even opening up to the girl next door Susanna. James is going to be a great star, his range present in this film.

Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell have the biggest tasks as supporting cast. Carell was cast against his normal role and it pays dividends when viewing the final product. His character of Trent is mean, disrespectful and has no care for Duncan. Carell shows off his range as well in a role he has never played before. Watching him sound so arrogant and self righteous almost made me hate the character with all my passion and usually Steve Carell is the most lovable part of a film. Rockwell on the other hand was charming, funny and magnetic. His personality drew you in, and he rocked every scene he was in giving it a much needed burst of energy.

As far as acting films don't get much better then this, a far as themes we have seen all of this before. A shy kid coming of age in a town he at first hates and later begins to like because of the people he meets. A family dynamic that is fragile and susceptible to outside issues, and a bunch of rag tag misfits so out of the ordinary that fit together in order to complete each other social circles. It has all been done before, but rarely is it down with so much heart and grace as Jim Rash and Nat Faxon were able to do it.

Easily one of the most engaging films of 2013, the characters are what draw you in and the heart is what keeps your eyes glued to the screen. Another example of why a coming of age story done right can never grow old. As an adult film viewer, there is a soft spot for films like this one. The ones that capture the realism and the emotional ups and downs of what growing up is really all about.


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