Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: American Hustle (2013)

                                A Unique Gem About How We All 'Hustle' To Survive
            Since I just reviewed a film that was made by a director I have always admired, now I will get into a film made by a director I have really grown to admire: David O. Russell. I loved his last two films, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, and O. Russell delivers yet another masterpiece with American Hustle.

            American Hustle is based on a true story set in the 70's about the ABSCAM scandal. An FBI agent named Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) hires two con artists named Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) to try and take down corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey named Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). But the one person who could cause the case to crumble around them all is Irving's slightly deranged wife Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence).

           What I Liked About It:
          The thing that I liked the most about this movie was how their is no hero or villain. Pretty much every main character has some kind of fault and it is up to the audience to decide which character is more good or evil than the other. I really enjoy films that have characters who are grey areas and not just black and white because to me, it makes the characters much more human since everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE, has their faults. To me, it was interesting how David O. Russell focused more on the film being a character study but focusing on many different characters. I thought that was pretty neat. I also liked how the films was like a love letter to Scorsese. There are some instances that reminded me of the film Goodfellas, but I saw those as an homage rather than a rip-off. Some could easily look at this film as a rip-off of Goodfellas, but I personally don't. I just look at it as an homage.

          Another thing that I really liked was the magnificent performances from the cast. Christian Bale is astounding as Irving, the con artist who, while he embezzles money from investors, believes in respect and treating people the way you want to be treated. Amy Adams brilliantly plays Sydney, Irving's cunning yet vulnerable partner-in-crime who pretends to be a British aristocrat. Jeremy Renner gives a very earnest and sympathetic performance as Carmine, the corrupt mayor who just wants to create a better life for his family and the state of New Jersey. Bradley Cooper gives a very rich and complex performance as Richie, the FBI agent who becomes drunk with power as he runs the film's main operation, yet he just wants to finally be the one pulling the strings and not just be second rate or at the bottom of the barrel, something that most of us can relate to. Jennifer Lawrence is such a scene chewer as Rosalyn, Irving's crazed wife and in the scenes where she acts crazed, Lawrence still conveys a wide array of emotions and Lawrence continues to prove why she is one of the best young actresses working today. Robert De Niro even has one scene, but in that one scene, he still shines.

        What I Didn't Like About It:

       Overall, American Hustle is a stunning character driven and entertaining thriller that succeeds from start to finish. It has magnificent performances from the cast, brilliant direction from David O. Russell and is a unique love letter to Martin Scorsese. This one I would highly recommend!

Rating: 5/5


Review: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

                                  There Must Be A Full Moon Out Because This 'Wolf' Really Howls

                   As a devoted fan to the brilliant work of director Martin Scorsese, whose work includes Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and The Departed, as well as a fan of the acting chops of Leonardo DiCaprio, whose impressive resume includes such films as Shutter Island, Catch Me If You Can, and Inception, I can honestly say this is another crowning achievement on the list of films they have made over the years.

                 The Wolf of Wall Street is based on a true story about a young penny stockbroker named Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) who quickly became rich by corrupting investors and resulting in the FBI getting on his tail for years. As the FBI get closer on his tail and he descends into drug addiction, Belfort begins to realize a consequence of living the high life, which appears to be a life without consequence and where life becomes one big party.

                 What I Liked About It:
                First off, what I'll get into is the brilliant direction by Martin Scorsese. There are some instances where you can tell that you are watching a Martin Scorsese film as he really stays true to his form while entering into a different territory of story telling. Unlike his more serious films that he has done over the years, here he delivers a solid black comedy and does the movie with such flare that despite the film's 3-hour running time, you still are glued to the screen. So major kudos to you, Marty! You continue to prove why you are not just one of the greatest directors working today, but why you are one of the greatest directors of all time. Period.

                Another thing that I really liked was the performances from the cast. Leonardo DiCaprio delivers yet another fantastic performance as Jordan Belfort, the sleazy and manipulative yet charismatic stockbroker. Jonah Hill also does a fine job as Donnie, Jordan's equally sleazy partner-in-crime. Matthew McConaughey only appears for about two scenes as Belfort's devil-on-his-shoulders boss, but even in those scenes he really shines. I especially liked the scene where McConaughey does the improvised gorilla-like chest beating. In my opinion, it shows how stockbrokers can be like animals and Wall Street is like a big jungle. But one actress that I'd like to talk about is the film's breakout actress Margot Robbie. She is just electric as Belfort's beautiful gold-digging wife Naomi as she is very sensual yet exudes such fiery anger. I definitely look forward to more from this young actress in the near future and thank you to Scorsese for discovering her. Another thing that I thought was interesting was how even though it shows many scenes of the main characters partying and doing drugs excessively, it didn't take away from the story and even lets some of those scenes tell the story themselves. So, I thought that was pretty neat. A movie like this could've easily just been talky for the most part and just talk of stock exchange mumbo jumbo, but it manages to be rather entertaining and keep the audience glued in.

                What I Didn't Like About It:

               Overall, The Wolf of Wall Street is another masterful piece of filmmaking by the dynamic duo of Scorsese and DiCaprio. It's entertaining, directed with such style and flare, and is such thrilling storytelling. This 'Wolf' is definitely not more bark then bite. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone because there is plenty of graphic sexual content which might make some viewers uncomfortable, but if it's not much of a bother or if you are a fan of Scorsese or DiCaprio, I would highly recommend this.

Rating: 5/5



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Trailer Talk #12: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar, Transcendence, 22 Jump Street, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Noah

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Trailer Talk. For today's episode, I will review more movies set for release in 2014. A few of these are on my most anticipated movies list, and let me just say that 2014 looks to be a very interesting year for movies. Anyhow, here we go:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: First up is the trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Now, I saw the film's predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes and even though this trailer doesn't show us a whole lot, I am still very intrigued by it. I definitely can't wait to see more of Andy Serkis as the ape Caesar as I thought he was the best thing about Rise. Hope to catch it in theaters and to quote a line from a character in the trailer: "I need to speak to Caesar"!

Interstellar: Next up is the trailer for the upcoming Christopher Nolan film Interstellar. At this point in his career, I'll watch anything that is done by Christopher Nolan and Interstellar looks to be no exception. The trailer that I saw may have only been a teaser but I'm sure that is just an appetizer before I can get to the next course, as I can't wait to see more of what the film has to offer. No doubt I am seeing this in theaters and I have a feeling if it's any good, I will see it more than once like Nolan's last two films.

Transcendence: Next is another film by Nolan yet is directed by his frequent cinematographer Wally Pfister, known as Transcendence. Now, when I first heard of this film, I wasn't too enthused about it. That was until I saw the trailer and when I saw Johnny Depp. The character he is playing looks to be a slight cry away from the eccentric protagonists he has played in recent years, but I think it's interesting he is playing that type of character. Plus, I'll get into what the film is about: It's about a scientist played by Johnny Depp who transcends his mind into a computer. Eventually he becomes more powerful and a radical anti-technology group then tries to stop him. I hope to check it out in theaters.

22 Jump Street: Next is the first sequel on this list: 22 Jump Street. Now, I saw the first one and I thought it was pretty enjoyable. However, I am unsure about this one. I mean, I definitely don't think this is something I would pay to see in theaters, but if it's on Starz or something, I'll check it out. I'm sure Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill will be funny like they were in the last one, but I'm not sure, we'll see.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Next up is the only other sequel on this list: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Now, I saw the first Captain America and The Avengers, which I LOVED, but surprisingly, I have mixed feelings about going to see this. I'm guessing it's because I am just waiting for The Avengers: Age of Ultron to come out and I'm sure that reason must be why I skipped Thor: The Dark World, but that one I'll just Redbox. For the rest of the Marvel fans, besides myself, I'm sure this film will hold them off until The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But for me, I'll just wait and see. If I don't pay to see it in theaters, I'll just Redbox it like I will with Thor.

Noah: Lastly is, like Interstellar, another film that I am highly anticipating for next year, which is Darren Aronofsky's Noah. Darren Aronofsky is another director that I have grown to admire. I have loved his previous work which includes Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. But this one, which is his first big budget film, looks to be an entirely different approach for Aronofsky, yet I am extremely excited to see it. Another thing that gets me excited for this film is the cast, which includes Russell Crowe as the titular hero, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, and Anthony Hopkins. I may not be an avid studier of the whole story of Noah's ark, but I still can't wait to see this.

So, that was today's episode of Trailer Talk and I hope you enjoyed it and if you've seen any of these trailers, please feel free to comment on whether or not you have a desire to see these films or not and why. Thanks for reading!

Happy Holidays!

Hello, Bloggers, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you have a wonderful Happy New Year. One thing that I wanted to get out of the way was just an apology for not completing my 12 Movies of Christmas. My charger wasn't working so I didn't want to have to worry about having to do reviews while using up the rest of my battery, and the weekend before Christmas, I had a terrible stomach bug. Plus, I had final exams, so that also took up my time. I won't try to continue it now because I think it feels weird reviewing movies for Christmas even though we are past it. I will definitely try to do another 12 Movies of Christmas segment next year.

So, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that you have a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12 Movies of Christmas: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Hello, Bloggers, for today's review, I will discuss one of my all time favorite movies and what I feel is the best movie from Tim Burton. Now, I said in my post where I said which movies I will review for the 12 Movies of Christmas, I said one of them was Toy Story, but I am reviewing this one in place of it. This film is Edward Scissorhands.

                  Edward Scissorhands is about an abnormal man named Edward (Johnny Depp) who has scissors for hands and lives in a castle up on the hill in his town. When his local Avon saleswoman named Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) comes to his house, she decides to take him home to her family down in suburbia. There, he falls in love with Peg's daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) and affects the lives of those in his neighborhood.

                  What I Liked About It:
                 Where do I begin here? First off, I liked how the film manages to find a happy medium with both comedy and drama. In the first off, it becomes a film that is light-hearted and somewhat of a comedy. But as the film progresses toward the second half, it becomes a heartbreaking drama. This film is also a phenomenal testament to Johnny Depp's acting abilities. I always knew he was a fantastic actor who disappears into his characters, but this is without a doubt is best performance. Yes, even better than the role that made him the star he is today: Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates series, which I also love a lot. He manages to convey a wide range of emotions, from fragile to happy, even when he speaks softly and is under pale makeup. He and Winona Ryder also have great chemistry when on screen.

                Also, I feel that, and I don't know if anyone else saw this, but I felt that this film had some elements from Beauty and the Beast, whereas it deals with a man who is almost monstrous looking on the outside, but has a soft heart. Plus, I thought it was neat how Tim Burton took a fantasy character and put him in a realistic setting and situations. The neighborhood that Edward goes to live in is very colorful, which contrasts to Edward's dark look, as he is very pale and wears black. Then, when he wears a white suit for most of the movie, it shows how he is blending in with his neighbors, or the bright colors of his society.

                 What I Didn't Like About It:                 Nothing.

                 Overall, Edward Scissorhands is a masterful fairy tale that I hope will become a timeless classic as the years go by. It's not only funny and light-hearted, but it also deeply dramatic and heartbreaking. *Just a heads up, there are points in the movie where you might cry. Anyhow, I would recommend this to anybody, not just because it is a great movie, but it is also one of my favorite movies.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, December 15, 2013

12 Movies of Christmas: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to a new segment on 12 Movies of Christmas. For this review, I figured I'd review a film that is a slightly underrated yet extremely controversial slasher film set on Christmastime. This film, which angered mothers across the country, is known as Silent Night, Deadly Night.

                     Silent Night, Deadly Night is about a man named Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) who, along with his brother, was put away in an orphanage when he was a child after his parents were killed by a man dressed up as Santa Claus. When living in that orphanage, he was living under the care of a strict and abusive Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). Slowly, he begins to go on a killing spree while dressed as Santa Claus and like Santa himself, punish those who are naughty.

                     What I Liked About It:
                    Now, before I get into what I liked about this film, I'd like to get into the film's controversy and why it caused such a stir. It is pretty much because of the film's premise about a killer Santa Claus and the fact it was shown around Christmas. The PTA complained to the film's studio and fought to have this film banned from theaters, which proved to be successful as this film was pulled from theaters shortly after. I personally would've rather they just calmly told their kids it's  a piece of fiction. It's not like they were old enough to see it anyway because this movie is a hard R.

                     Anyhow, what I liked about this film was how it gives the main character a backstory and gives us an insight as to who he is and why he is the way he is. I liked how it does that and is aware of what it wants to be. It's definitely not a horror film of The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, or even Black Christmas caliber, in terms of its story or direction, but I think the makers of the film were pretty aware of that. Although, I honestly didn't find it too scary. It was rather tongue-in-cheek and cheesy, but I still got an enjoyment out of it, despite the film being set around Christmastime.

                    What I Didn't Like About It:

                   Overall, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a typical 80's cheesy slasher film that fans of the genre can enjoy and those that love gory movies can enjoy. This is definitely not a film to watch with your family on Christmas. It'd be better to watch it by yourself like I have because that way you won't have to worry about the person you're watching it being embarrassed or grossed out.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, December 13, 2013

12 Movies of Christmas: The Godfather (1972)

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of the 12 Movies of Christmas. While I did another movie about Christmas last time, today I will review a film that seems like an odd choice to review around Christmastime but I will explain why. So, let's go into a film that you 'can't refuse' as I review the all-time classic The Godfather.

                The Godfather is about an aging patriarch named Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) who is very devoted to his family and has five children: Michael (Al Pacino), who has little interest at first in getting into the family business, which pleases Vito, Sonny (James Caan), who wants to take over the family business, Vito's adopted son Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) who is also the family lawyer, Fredo (John Cazale), and Connie (Talia Shire), who is married to an abusive Sicilian man which displeases her father. Vito Corleone is a crime boss who is very devoted to his family, but will enforce violence on those who threaten or disrespect his family. When a rival crime family wants to start selling drugs in New York, the two clans begin to clash and eventually, the peace within the Corleone family becomes threatened.

               What I Liked About It:
              One thing that I liked the most about this film was how some of its main themes deal with family values, which is why I chose to review it as one of my 12 Movies of Christmas. As I said on my list of the Top 10 Best Movie Dads, Vito Corleone is somebody that may be the head of a crime family, but he cares deeply about his family. So, I think that Vito is a very interesting character and Marlon Brando does a phenomenal job at playing him. He may not have the most screen time unlike his co-stars, but when he is on screen, he has a large commanding screen presence and I am more than glad Brando won an Oscar for his performance, and that Caan, Duvall, and Pacino got nods for their performances as well. Al Pacino I would say gives the most dynamic performance as Michael, the son who is reluctant to take part in the family business at first, but slowly does take part in it. James Caan just eats up the scenery as Sonny, the hot-headed son who is fiercely loyal to his family. Robert Duvall is also great as Tom Hagen, the moral center of his adopted family, and even John Cazale and Talia Shire, who play Fredo and Connie, are great as well. I would say this movie, along with the 1951 version of A Streetcar Named Desire, also starring Marlon Brando, is like a master class in acting. Plus, I loved the master class direction by Francis Ford Coppola. When he directs the violent or gory scenes, it's like you know it's going to happen, but you don't know when or how because he uses the long tracking shot technique to focus on his actors and create suspense.

              I also liked how despite the film's near 3-hour running time, I was never bored the entire way through. The film definitely takes its time with the story and I really love it for that. Normally, when a long film takes too much time with its story, I begin to get bored *cough* The English Patient *cough*, but not the case here. Honestly, if it was ever on the AMC Channel or whatever, I would put it on just because I love it so much.

               What I Didn't Like About It:

              Overall, The Godfather is a magnificent classic that is absolutely flawless. It is usually number one or two on many "Greatest Films List" and I can honestly see why that is because this film is just perfect. Watching this film is, to quote Vito Corleone, is just "an offer that you can't refuse".

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12 Movies of Christmas: It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

Hello, Bloggers, for today's review for the 12 Movies of Christmas, I figured I'd discuss a film that is a timeless and Oscar-nominated Christmas classic. That film is the holiday classic known as It's A Wonderful Life. 

                   It's A Wonderful Life is about an everyman named George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) who has always wanted to travel the world, yet because he makes commitments to his loved ones and friends, he never accomplishes that dream. Plus, he always has to face the tyrannical businessman named Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) who keeps trying to overrun the town. One night, Bailey meets his guardian angel Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) and makes a wish that he was never born. When Clarence grants that wish, he shows him just what life would be like if he was never born.

                  What I Liked About It:
                 One thing that I liked about this film was how it conveys the message that "no man is a failure who has friends". That message pretty much means that those who think they are failing at life because things don't go according to their plan aren't if they have many supporters or if they have touched many lives. After I watched this film and grasped the film's message, it made me feel very good about myself and I hope that those who watch it feel the same way and appreciate the people in their life they have been blessed with like I have. Honestly, this is the only film that I've seen where I have cried tears of happiness. Normally, when I watch a film that is upsetting, I get very teary, but never have I cried tears of happiness, so watching this was definitely a unique experience.

                 Another thing I really liked was Jimmy Stewart's performance. Stewart's character is pretty much the ultimate everyman, I would say because George is someone who is an average Joe who is placed in rough and extraordinary circumstances. Stewart gives a performance full of emotions ranging from happy to angry to brave, and I am certainly glad he got an Oscar nod for his performance. Lionel Barrymore is also outstanding as the polar opposite of George Bailey: Mr. Potter who, unlike George Bailey who is very giving and is beloved by many, is lonely, uncaring, and a slimy businessman. He is pretty much the kind of guy that you hope doesn't exist in real life, but sadly, there are people like him. But George Bailey is somebody that many people can relate to as there are many people who are bitter about being hardly able to live their dreams yet don't recognize the good in their life.

                What I Didn't Like About It:

               Overall, It's A Wonderful Life is a timeless classic that'll have you feeling 'wonderful' by the time it is over. I can't say enough good things about it other than that and hopefully, if you do watch it, by the time it is over, you will be thinking the name of the title about your own life.

Rating: 5/5

Trailer Talk #11 (2014 Blockbuster Editon): Godzilla, Amazing Spider Man 2, Jupiter Ascending, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Maleficent, Divergent

Hello, Bloggers, welcome back to Trailer Talk! Sorry it's been a while since I did an episode, but here is another one. For today's episode, I will discuss blockbusters that will await us in the 2014 movie season, and I must say, it looks to be a very interesting year for movies. Here we go:

Godzilla: The first trailer I will discuss will be the trailer that came out yesterday for the upcoming reboot of Godzilla. Now, I haven't seen any of the other Godzilla films, but watching the trailer for this makes me quite intrigued. It keeps the titular monster in the shadows and the fog, which is pretty neat because it means we'll have to see the film to get a full glimpse of the creature. Plus, the movie has quite an eclectic group of actors, which includes names like Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, Kick-Ass' Aaron Taylor-Johnson, up-and-comer Elizabeth Olsen, Inception's Ken Watanabe, veteran character actor David Strathairn, The English Patient's Juliette Binoche, and British character actress Sally Hawkins. I hope to check this out in theaters.

Amazing Spider-Man 2: Next up is the trailer for the upcoming sequel involving everyone's favorite Web Slinger: The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Now, I saw the first one and I really liked it, but what makes me excited for this one is not just because of the effects and all, but the new band of actors thrown into the mix: Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Chris Cooper, and Dane DeHaan of True Blood and Chronicle fame. All of whom are amazing actors and I can't wait to see what Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti will do with the roles of newly-introduced villains Electro and Rhino. Plus, I'm intrigued to see what Chris Cooper and Dane DeHaan will do with the new film incarnations of Norman and Harry Osborn. Hope to see it in theaters.

Jupiter Ascending: Next up is the trailer for a film that is a more original concept, known as Jupiter Ascending, which stars Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, and Sean Bean of Game of Thrones fame. Now, for those of you who haven't heard of the film or have seen the trailer but don't know much about what it's about, here is the synopsis: Set in a futuristic world where there is another world of more evolved humans who are able to splice their DNA with animal DNA. One soldier named Caine (Tatum), who is half-man half-wolf, is sent by the Queen of the Universe to kill a poor woman named Jupiter (Kunis) who is said to be a threat to the Queen's rule, but Caine ends up protecting her. The trailer doesn't give a whole lot away, but I am still intrigued by the whole premise of the film and to see the new world that the Wachowskis of The Matrix and Cloud Atlas fame have created. Hope to see it in theaters.

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Next up is another sequel and one that I am really excited for, and that is X-Men: Days of Future Past. Even though they have only shown a teaser trailer, which doesn't reveal a whole lot, I am still quite pumped for it. One reason is not just because they have the band of actors from X-Men: First Class, but even the original band of actors from the original X-Men series that includes Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Anna Paquin. Plus, the action scenes and effects look great and it looks to be faithful to the "Days of Future Past" storyline from the X-Men comics. Seeing it in theaters!

Maleficent: Next up is the trailer for the upcoming re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty known as Maleficent, which revolves around the titular villain and her backstory. Even though the teaser trailer that was revealed doesn't show a whole lot, what is selling me on this film is the star herself, Ms. Angelina Jolie. I have a feeling she is just going to inhale this role and give us a villain that is as menacing as the original Dracula. It'll be her return to the big screen in four years, and it looks to be a marvelous return. Hope to see this in theaters.

Divergent: Lastly, is the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of the first book in a Young Adult series known as Divergent. Now, I have actually yet to read the books, and I watched the trailer before my Dad and I got the books on my Kindle, but the trailer does look very solid. Doesn't seem to give too much away, but doesn't hide too much. One of the things that the trailer actually sold me on was Kate Winslet, who plays the film's antagonist. When I was watching her, I sort of thought to myself "She's going to be very good", which of course isn't surprising because as many of us know, she's a magnificent actress. So, if the book is any good, then I will definitely check it out in theaters.

So, that was an episode of Trailer Talk, and you can check out all the trailers that I reviewed on this post. Hope you enjoy those and until the next episode, thanks for reading!

Monday, December 9, 2013

12 Movies of Christmas: Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of 12 Movies of Christmas. For today's episode, I will review another film that isn't about Christmas, nor normally aired around Christmastime, but in certain scenes, it is set around Christmastime. So, let's begin the chase as I review the Steven Spielberg crime caper Catch Me If You Can.

                       Catch Me If You Can is based on a true story about Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) who when he was in high school and is parents were getting divorced, ran away from home and lived live as a con man. He posed as a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, and would forge checks. On this tail was FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) who would pursue him until he is finally caught.

                        What I Liked About It:
                       One thing that I liked was the stylish direction by Steven Spielberg. Spielberg really gives the film on old-style feel and I loved its nostalgic vibe. Not only that, but some of the best scenes were the ones with songs that fit into each scene. For example, in one scene where the FBI is trying to catch Frank and he flies away on his plane, the song "Come Fly With Me" plays and that gave the scene a bit of suspense because of how the FBI is really on Frank's tail. Another one that I liked was towards the end, at Christmastime, where Frank is standing outside his mother's house and it's snowing outside, it's very calm and the song "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" is playing. Plus, I liked one scene where Frank and Carl are talking on the phone and when Frank says he called to apologize, Carl denies it and as he talks on the phone, the camera pans into is mouth and he says "You have no one else to call" which sums up how alone Frank is, then Frank immediately hangs up. I liked the way that scene was directed.

                      I also liked the acting from the cast as well. Leonardo DiCaprio, as always, does a fantastic job as Frank Abagnale, the young con man who is charismatic yet conniving and is even anxious. Tom Hanks is also very good as Carl, but like Leonardo DiCaprio, it's never a surprise to see Hanks give a fantastic performance. As we all know, those two are some of the best actors working today. But one actor I'd like to talk about is Christopher Walken. He has a slightly smaller role as Frank Abagnale, Sr., but he nails it. It's a very nuanced and subtle performance of a father who is somewhat similar to his son and may have been an inspiration for him, but he is still very devoted and loving to his son. Another thing about the film that I thought was pretty near was how it wasn't just about a criminal being chased around most of his life, but it also touches themes on father-son relationships, broken family, and loneliness as well, as Frank uses some tricks he learned from his father to lie his way through life, runs away to escape his parents' divorce, and of course becomes lonely as he is moving from place to place.

                      What I Didn't Like About It:

                     Overall, Catch Me If You Can is a crime caper done with flare and features magnificent performances from the cast. It's not only entertaining but it also touches on very personal themes and is a film not to run away from. Highly recommended, and because their are scenes set on Christmas, I would say watch it around Christmastime!

Rating: 5/5

Friday, December 6, 2013

12 Movies of Christmas: The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another review of the 12 Movies of Christmas. For today's review, I decided to do a film that isn't necessarily about or set on Christmas, but is a movie that is usually aired around Christmas time. So, let's follow the Yellow Brick Road as I review the wonderful Wizard Of Oz.

                       The Wizard Of Oz is about a Kansas girl named Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) who is caught up in a tornado and then finds herself in the land of Oz. There she meets three friends known as The Tin Man (Jack Haley), The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), and The Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr). All of whom go off to try to see the titular Wizard Of Oz, but for different reasons: Dorothy just wants to go home, Tin Man wants a heart, The Cowardly Lion wants courage, and the Scarecrow wants a brain. On their journey though, they try to face the malevolent Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton).

                      What I Liked About It:
                     One thing that I liked the most about this film was how it manages to incorporate different genres into one movie. It has some musical moments, a bit of horror thanks to the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys, drama, and adventure. So, it has a bit of something for everybody and it should come as no surprise that it is considered a classic.

                      Another thing that I really liked was the performance from Margaret Hamilton. While Judy Garland does an amazing job, along with her fellow co-stars, it is Hamilton that eats up the scenery. I remember the first time I saw this movie, I was given chills whenever Hamilton was on screen, and yet, when she wasn't on screen, I wanted to see more of her. That is usually what I look for with a villain in a genre piece, and Hamilton just nails it. Also, I like how despite how old the movie is, it definitely has aged well, in my opinion. The effects and imaginative set pieces still hold up to this day and is definitely a solid blueprint for fantasy movies. I would say anyone that is looking to write a fantasy story or make a fantasy movie should look to this movie for inspiration if you want to make a timeless classic.

                    What I Didn't Like About It:

                   Overall, The Wizard Of Oz is a classic that will forever stand the test of time and offers a colorful blend of different genres. It's got horror, comedy, musical numbers, drama, and adventure. This should definitely be on your must list if you haven't seen this movie already, and this is one to show your children if you have any that haven't seen it yet. It's a good one to watch around Christmas time and is highly recommended!

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

12 Movies of Christmas: Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to a new month-long segment called 12 Movies of Christmas. Ho! Ho! Ho! For this segment, I will do 12 movies every other day leading up to Christmas, starting now. For today's review, I will discuss a modern-day retelling of a classic children's story: Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

                         The Grinch is about the town of Whoville that is absolutely crazy over Christmas. Everybody except for the Grinch (Jim Carrey) who lives alone up on a high mountain that he lived in since he was a child. But one little girl named Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) looks to not only rejuvenate the Grinch's Christmas spirit but get her family and the rest of the town to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

                          What I Liked About It:
                         Now, what I really liked about this movie was how it was not only faithful to the source material, but it expanded on it. It created a backstory for The Grinch and why he is the way he is, and the character of Cindy Lou Who is expanded on as well. Also, it keeps the same theme as the original story, which is that Christmas doesn't just come from gifts, but people joining together to create joy and kindness.

                         I also really liked Jim Carrey's portrayal of The Grinch. Honestly, I always forget that it's Jim Carrey playing the character. It's probably because of how he hides under all that makeup and changes his voice. But he still manages to do his usual Jim Carrey routine which I love seeing. He even has a tender dramatic moment near the end. The film's supporting players also do a fine job, including Taylor Momsen, Bill Irwin, who plays Cindy Lou's dad, Christine Baranski, who plays the Grinch's love interest, Martha May, and one of the industry's finest character actors, Jeffrey Tambor, who plays the Grinch's nemesis Mayor Maywho.

                         What I Didn't Like About It:

                        Overall, Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a wonderful adaptation of the material it's based on that is faithful to it and really expands on it. It has wonderful performances from the cast, especially Jim Carrey, and is a wonderful treat to watch on Christmas. Whether you've read the book or not, I would highly recommend this!

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Indie Review: Being John Malkovich (1999)

                       'Being John Malkovich': A Refreshingly Original Yet Completely Bonkers Comedy

                    After watching this and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I can honestly feel grateful that there are some screenwriters out there who come up with amazingly new ideas. The film's writer, who also wrote Eternal Sunshine, Charlie Kaufman, certainly falls under that category, so I give him major kudos for bringing his creative and inventive mind to Hollywood.

                   Being John Malkovich is about a puppeteer named Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) who, at his new job, discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. He then shows it to his pet-loving wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) and his sultry co-worker Maxine Lund (Catherine Keener). From there, all three discover just what it is like to literally become someone else.

                   What I Liked About It:
                  The thing that I loved the most about this movie is of course the story. Not only because it hasn't really been done before, but it manages to incorporate the theme of wanting to become someone else other than yourself. When we are down, there are those of us who tend who wish they had the life of someone else or wish they were someone else because of how they are richer or more famous or seem happier. The theme is definitely present with its main characters, in particular Craig and Lotte. Craig is a struggling down-on-his-luck puppeteer who becomes obsessed with the successful actor John Malkovich after stepping into his mind, and Lotte enjoys the experience of stepping into Malkovich's mind because it allows her to live out her transgendered desires. But if you think about it, the film has somewhat of a frightening quality to it, just because of the idea of somebody becoming you and trying to taking over your mind.

                  I also really liked the acting in this film. John Cusack does a fine job as Craig Schwartz, as he is both funny and crazily obsessive. Cameron Diaz is almost completely unrecognizable as Lotte Schwartz as she has frizzy hair and is made to look very plain, but she gives one of her best performances to date. Catherine Keener is also fantastic as Maxine, Craig's sexual and almost diabolical co-worker and I am quite glad she was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. John Malkovich is also fantastic as himself. He manages to play himself as if he was a fictional character, even though he is technically not playing a character, and to me, that shows just how he is one of the best character actors in the business.

                 What I Didn't Like About It:

                Overall, Being John Malkovich is an original and hilarious yet somewhat horrific fantasy comedy. It not only makes you laugh, but touches on the theme of wanting to become someone else, and does it with such flare. I would highly recommend this.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, November 18, 2013

Coming Soon: 12 Movies of Christmas

Hello, Bloggers, in honor of the Yuletide tradition that will take place next month, I figured in the month of December, I will review movies that pertain to Christmas. Films that are about Christmas, set around the time of Christmas, or maybe films that seem fitting to review around Christmastime. Films from funny to scary and from kid-friendly to for mature audiences.  Here is a list of what they are:

A Christmas Story (1983)

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

Wizard of Oz (1939)

Elf (2003)

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

The Godfather (1972)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1980)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Toy Story (1995)

So, I just wanted to share this quick news and give you guys a heads up on what's to come for December. Until then, thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Supporting Actress (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, for today, since I decided to do my updates for the other three acting categories at the Oscars, I will now update my predictions for Best Supporting Actress. Let me just say, like Best Supporting Actor, this is a very open category and was almost difficult to pick. Anyhow, here we go:
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine: I not only went with her because their are those that say she has a shot at getting nominated, but because I'm going with my heart and I want her to get nominated. While watching her performance, I remember thinking to myself "Wow, who is that actress? She's very good". Plus, ladies who have starred in Woody Allen movies have had good fortune with the Academy, with the list being too long. So, I would cross my fingers for her to score a nod and jump up and down if she does.

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle: After just scoring an Oscar for Best Lead Actress, Lawrence seems to be capitalizing on her success by starring in upcoming potential Oscar favorite American Hustle. Because her co-star Amy Adams seems to be leaning more towards Best Lead Actress this year, that could leave a slot in the open race for Best Supporting Actress for Lawrence.

Margo Martindale, August: Osage County: Now onto a veteran actress who has been working since the 90's. I have read on a few websites like IndieWire and HitFix and on their Best Supporting Actress prediction pages, and they have said Martindale has worked with and is respected by Academy voters, so that could help and if she were to score a nomination, then Martindale could really see all her hard work and dedication in Hollywood start to pay off.

Lupita Nyong'o: 12 Years A Slave: For a performance that surprising to many is her film debut, Lupita Nyong'o is deservingly one of the leading frontrunners for a nomination and possible win for Best Supporting Actress. Anyone who has seen the film and praised her performance can conclude that her performance speaks for itself.

Oprah Winfrey, The Butler: Said to be a lock to be nominated ever since the film's release back in August, Winfrey has received some favorable reviews for her performance. Not only that will help her chances but her star power and the fact she has Harvey Weinstein behind her helps as well. If she does get nominated, then it'll be her second nomination for Best Supporting Actress as the last time she was nominated was back in 1986 for The Color Purple, and she will be the third black actress to have two Oscar nods with the first two being Viola Davis and her Color Purple co-star, Whoopi Goldberg.

Now onto the dark horse contenders who could "trot" their way into the competition:

Scarlett Johansson (Her): Depending on if a voice can be considered for a nomination.

Sarah Paulson (12 Years A Slave): While Nyong'o maybe getting the strongest buzz, why not consider one of her fellow co-stars? The Academy has definitely proven they have no trouble nominating actresses for their villainous portrayals.

June Squibb (Nebraska): A veteran actress like Martindale, but is about 83, and this could be her last chance at getting nominated, so I would say look out for her.

Emily Watson (The Book Thief): The film is slightly off the radar, but Watson is a 2-time Oscar nominee (Best Actress for Breaking the Waves, Hilary and Jackie), so she's essentially an Academy favorite.

Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club): Depending on whether or not the fact McConaughey and Leto are getting more talk for their performances hurts her chances.

So, those are my picks for who I think will get nominated for Best Supporting Actress and the dark horses who could score a nod. If you agree or disagree or would like to add your own choices, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Supporting Actor (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, for today, since I updated my picks for who will be nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, I will now update my picks for Best Supporting Actor, which seems to be a pretty open race thus far. Here we go:

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips: Since the release of Captain Phillips, newcomer Barkhad Abdi has been getting some strong notices for his performance. After having seen the film, I can definitely see why. One reason that I think he will get nominated is because the Academy might want to make him the first Somali actor to be nominated for an Academy Award and the Academy does like to make records like nominating the first Middle Eastern or Brazilian or Japanese actor or actress and so on and so forth to create diversity to the long list of winners and nominees. Plus, like I said, Abdi does give an outstanding performance and for his first feature film, is able to hold his own against an actor like Tom Hanks. That alone should grant him a place in the category.

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle: While the film hasn't come out yet, it has gotten some strong buzz, partly because of the talent behind it, which of course includes Mr. Bradley Cooper, who could get his second consecutive nomination and for starring in another David O. Russell picture. If he does score his second nod, then he'll really prove to his naysayers that he can act beyond playing the wise-ass like in Wedding Crashers and The Hangover. I personally always knew and recognized that he could because I really like him as an actor.

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave: Fassbender is one of the frontrunners to be nominated in this category thus far, and I am certainly rooting for him to be nominated after seeing him give such an outstanding performance as Edwin Epps, the main character's sadistic slave owner. I have a feeling some will be concerned as to whether or not the fact that he's playing such a dark character will hurt his chances at winning or even getting nominated, but the Academy usually does recognize actors who give villainous performances (Javier Bardem for No Country For Old Men, Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds, Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight, Ralph Fiennes for Schindler's List, etc.).

Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks: Another frontrunner thus far in the race for Best Supporting Actor, Tom Hanks seems to really be on a role this year with both Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks. Interestingly, in both films, he plays real-life people and in Mr. Banks, he plays the legendary Walt Disney. The film is also a front runner to be nominated for Best Picture and like the last two winners in that category, The Artist and Argo, Mr. Banks is a movie about movies as it showcases the story of author P.L. Travers and how Walt Disney tries to obtain the rights to her book Mary Poppins and turn it into a picture. So the film's chances at going up for the top prize could easily benefit Hanks' chance at being nominated and possibly being the 12th person to have two acting nominations in the same year, with one of the first 11 being his Saving Mr. Banks co-star, Emma Thompson.

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Much like his co-star Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto is picking up strong buzz for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club and like McConaughey, Leto takes on a physically-demanding role. In the film, Leto plays an AIDS victim who is also a transvestite. It's been a while since Leto has been on the big screen, so an Oscar nomination could easily be a welcome return for him.

Now, onto the Dark Horse contenders who could "trot" their way into the competition:

James Gandolfini (Enough Said): The film is a surprise indie hit and received a positive critical reception, especially for Gandolfini's posthumous performance.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners): Depending on whether or not Prisoners peeked a little too early, Gyllenhaal might have a fighting chance.

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street): The film has yet to come out, but Hill is making some people's prediction lists for this category, so I would say watch out.

Chris Cooper (August: Osage County): The film is an ensemble piece with Harvey Weinstein behind it, so he could try to score some nominations for not just the film's female stars, but maybe their male counterparts.

Will Forte (Nebraska): Forte is a comedic actor doing a dramatic turn, and usually the Academy likes to reward comedic actors who go dramatic for their efforts.

John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis): Goodman was in the last two Best Picture winners and Llewyn Davis seems to be a contender for Best Picture, which could grant him some momentum. Plus, he has never even been nominated for an Oscar before. So, I would say be on the lookout for Goodman.

So, those are my thoughts as to who will now be nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. If you agree or disagree, or would like to add your own picks, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Topic of the Day: '12 Years A Slave' vs. 'Django Unchained'

Hello, Bloggers, for today's Topic of the Day, I figured I'd discuss two films that people seem to be making comparisons to and contrasting nowadays since the former film's release: Both 12 Years A Slave and Django Unchained. Two films that cover the topic of slavery but from different points of view. Here we go:

First I'll get into 12 Years A Slave. Now, 12 Years deals is based on a real-life man's harrowing experience when he was a free man that was captured and sold into slavery. 12 Years A Slave showcases just the grimness of what he had to deal with. Not just him, but the treatment of other slaves he encounters. When we get those scenes where our main protagonist is going through cruelty, the director never cuts away from it. He just gives us long tracking shots of our main protagonist being treated as a non-human. As I said in my review, 12 Years is much more in the vein of Schindler's List, which of course shows the grimness of the Holocaust

Next, I'll get into Django Unchained, which is more in the vein of Quentin Tarantino's previous work, such as Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. Now, while Django is an outstanding picture and succeeds in its own right and has quite some fine directing and acting, it's much more of a fable than 12 Years is. Django offers a story about a slave seeking revenge that is pure escapism but it is entertaining to watch. It is a story that even I wish were real, as it deals with a slave killing slave owners that are piece of crap human beings.

But, aside from how both films approach slavery on a realistic scale, how do they work as films in general? Well, 12 Years A Slave works well as an artistic movie. You may not have the most pleasant reaction watching this, but it will give you a reaction. That is pretty much the central goal of art in general. It either makes you really happy, really sad, or really angry. This film will more than likely make you feel the last two emotions. But Django Unchained is a fun popcorn flick. It does have a few moments where they do showcase the harsh treatment of slaves, but it still is meant to entertain you for three hours and get your blood going as the action gives you a rush.

So, that is my contrast of both 12 Years A Slave and Django Unchained which cover the same topic but offer different perspectives. If you have seen both films and want to share your thoughts as to why they are different or similar, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review: 12 Years A Slave

                       '12 Years A Slave': A Masterful Odyssey Into The Abyss of Southern Hell

                    20 years ago, we were introduced to the masterpiece and classic that is Schindler's List which deals with one of the most brutal events in the history of mankind: The Holocaust, and it has really shown just how horrible humans can be. 12 Years A Slave does the same thing, only it deals with one of the most horrific times in American history: American slavery. Hopefully, this movie becomes a modern-day classic as this movie is the Schindler's List of slavery.

                   12 Years A Slave is based on a true story about a free man named Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is captured and sold into slavery. The film then showcases his horrific ordeals and dealing with different slave owners, one of whom is an alcoholic psychopath named Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).

                   What I Liked About It:
                  Where do I begin here? I'll start off with the acting. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an astounding performance and dynamic performance as Solomon Northup, a slave who tries to stay alive and get back to his family just by working and putting his head down while avoiding helping his fellow slaves and losing his faith, but he eventually comes to his senses. Even when Ejiofor doesn't speak lines of dialogue, he really showcases the emotions he is going through and acts with his facial expressions. Now onto Michael Fassbender. He is phenomenal as the FILTHY, filthy human being that is Edwin Epps. I like how he doesn't just play Epps as a straight-up one-dimensional villain, but as a rather complex villain. One that is cunning and raging yet manipulated by his equally-cunning wife, played brilliantly by Sarah Paulson. Speaking of Paulson, talk about an actress doing a complete 180 from playing a slightly nicer character in American Horror Story to a devilish ice queen in this. I look forward to more from this actress and I see her as becoming one of the best character actresses in the business. Benedict Cumberbatch is also astounding as William Ford, Northup's first owner who is more humane than Epps because even though is a slave owner, he doesn't participate in the beating or abuse of his slaves. Brad Pitt is also in this movie for a brief appearance and he certainly makes the most of the limited screen time he has, along with Paul Giamatti, who also has a small role. But one actress who I would also like to talk about is newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, who plays a slave named Patsey. I am amazed that this is her first film role and yet she gives such a powerful performance. She has such a luminous presence on screen and whether she is in peril or not, you just can't help but weep for her. I cross my fingers that she gets an Oscar nomination for her performance, along with other members of the cast.

                  Another thing that I really liked was the direction from Steve McQueen. I like how he uses the long tracking shot technique to not cut away from the sheer horror that takes place on screen. For example, there is one big whipping scene that didn't cut away and I covered my face and started crying because I was mortified by what I witnessed. Also, there is one scene where Edwin is chasing Solomon with a knife which I found to be pretty intense because you can sense the fear that Solomon is going trough. Plus, there is another scene done in a long take that sort of had me in tears where Solomon is with his fellow slaves and his burying a slave that just passed and the other slaves start clapping and singing a song and Solomon eventually joins in. This is McQueen's third feature film, and after watching this, I want to see his other two films, Hunger and Shame. I also liked how even though the film is based on a true story and real-life people, writer John Ridley makes real complex characters out of the slave owners. William Ford is the more humane slave owner yet when he sees evil stuff being done and has the opportunity to do something good, he cowardly shies away. Edwin Epps is much more sadistic, raging, and is a much dirtier human being. Unlike Ford, Epps beats and abuses his slaves yet has tender feelings for Patsey. But Epps' wife, who is equally as cruel as Edwin, has much more of a stillness to her and is more of a subtle villain. She doesn't act as raging as her husband, but still gives off waves of ice and is practically the devil on her husband's shoulders.

                   What I Didn't Like About It:

                 Overall, 12 Years A Slave is an intensely powerful and emotionally gripping drama about slavery that will leave its mark on you long after it is over. I would say that everyone should go see this movie because if you watch it, you will see just how horrible human beings can be and maybe try to not be as horrible and better yourself once it's over. It is at times brutal to watch, but it's very honest. It's not necessarily entertaining, but it's pure art.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: Gravity

                        Someone Call An Astronomer, Because 'Gravity' Is Out Of This World

                    When I first heard about this movie, I was intrigued by its premise: Two astronauts stranded in space for the entire film. Then, upon its release, I could not wait to see it because of all the hype it had gotten, so I finally went the week after its release and all the hype that this movie had gotten proved to be true as this is a groundbreaking piece of filmmaking and I can't wait to see how it'll fare this awards season.

                    Gravity is about a veteran astronaut on his last mission named Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and a scientist on her first mission named Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) who, after their space station gets destroyed by falling debris, become stranded and try to figure out a way to survive and make every breath count.
                     What I Liked About It:
                    First off, what I loved the most about this movie was the outstanding direction by Alfonso Cuaron. He starts off the film by doing a 15 to 17-minute long tracking shot and during that scene, your heart just races because you know something's going to happen, yet you don't know when. He does the long tracking shot technique at other points in the film as well and I am amazed at how Cuaron did it for a film that was shot mostly in a green screen. He also manages to incorporate spiritual themes into the story and direct great performances from the two leads. Sandra Bullock really shines as Ryan, the troubled scientist who panics as she and Kowalski are left stranded but tries to build the strength to survive. I would even say her performance in this beats her Oscar-winning turn in The Blind Side, which says something because I really liked her in The Blind Side as well. George Clooney also does a fine job as Matt, the charismatic veteran astronaut who tries to guide Ryan as they both are stranded. Another thing that I liked was the outstanding cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. I am quite fond of Lubezki's earlier work, in films like Tree of Life and Sleepy Hollow, and he certainly made another crowning achievement with this film as the cinematography is absolutely beautiful, especially the scenes where we are shown the view of space.

                  What I Didn't Like About It:

                 Overall, Gravity is an astounding visual spectacle that grasps you as soon as the movie starts and lets you go when the credits roll. It is a film that has the best of both worlds: It is not only a grand-scale visual masterpiece but manages to be a piece of cinematic art as well. I would recommend seeing this in the theater because that is where a film like this is meant to be seen.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Actor (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, since I updated my predictions as to who will be nominated for Best Actress at next year's Oscars, here are the updates I have made for my predictions for Best Actor. Take a look:

Bruce Dern, Nebraska: If he is nominated, this could be Dern's second nomination as he was previously nominated back in 1979 for his supporting turn in Coming Home and as I've said before, the Academy loves to give veteran performers who have either won or been nominated a long while ago another shot at the gold. One thing that I think will benefit Dern is that Nebraska is an Alexander Payne film, and Payne is an Academy favorite. Plus, he won the Cannes Award for Best Actor, so that could be a possible benefit and if he's nominated, he could pull of an Alan Arkin or Christopher Plummer-level win whereas the Academy will think "it's time" and award the gold to him because it could be his last chance.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave: The film itself is really starting to pick up steam, much like some of its stars, which includes its lead Chiwetel Ejiofor. If Ejiofor is nominated, it could be his first nomination and for one of the few movies where he is THE lead, unlike most films where he is typically a supporting player. So a nomination could definitely show his hard work and dedication over the years in Hollywood really starting to pay off.

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips: Now onto someone who has already won 2 Oscars: Mr. Tom Hanks. After having seen Captain Phillips, I would definitely not be crushed if he was nominated as he was fantastic as always. The film itself and his performance are getting rave reviews and the film is becoming a box office success despite its competition with the box office titan Gravity. The film's B.O. success proves that Hanks still has star power so the Academy will probably not only want to reward him for performance but for proving that at age 57, he's still got "it".

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club: McConaughey has made quite a career turnaround in recent years after doing light-hearted rom-com fare, by going with smaller gritty indie projects and winning critical praise for it, as well as winning the Indie Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for Magic Mike. Now, he could potentially have the words "Academy Award-nominee" over his name in movie trailers for starring in Dallas Buyers Club, where he plays an AIDS-victim. He lost a drastic amount of weight for his role and the Academy loves to reward actors who play physically-demanding roles for their efforts. I guess Stewie Griffin can't tell McConaughey how much he sucks now.

Robert Redford, All Is Lost: Now onto another veteran actor who, unlike Bruce Dern, has won before, but ironically, not for acting. Robert Redford has won Best Director back in 1981 for Ordinary People and has only been nominated for Best Actor back in 1974 for The Sting. But in All Is Lost, he plays a man who is shipwrecked in a film that has little to no dialogue and he is the only actor in the entire movie. Redford is getting rave reviews for his performance so not only will that benefit him, but the fact that it is a mentally and physically demanding role, as he has no co-stars for support and he does his own water stunts. So pulling that off at age 77 is an accomplishment that the Academy will want to recognize.

Now onto the dark horse contenders who could "trot" their way into the Final Five:

Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station): Depending on if the film's early July release will hurt his chances.

Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt): There's always a surprise nomination in the acting categories, and because The Hunt was screened at the Academy and is Denmark's selection for Best Foreign Language Film, I would say look out for Mikkelsen.

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street): Depending on how well the film does and his performance. Plus, whether or not the Academy will decide to give him a strong shot at the golden man another year.

Joaquin Phoenix (Her): Film is getting a good reception from critics, but a nod for Phoenix depends on the crowded awards race.

Christian Bale (American Hustle): The film has yet to come out, but if it gets a positive reception, Bale could battle for a slot in the Final Five.

Forest Whitaker (The Butler): The film is both a critical and commercial success, and Whitaker has gotten rave reviews, one saying it is "the performance of his career".

So, those are my predictions for who will be nominated for Best Actor and who could sneak their way into the Final Five. If you agree or disagree or want to add your own picks, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Actress (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, as we are getting close to the Oscar race, I figured I'd update my predictions for some of the major categories, and hopefully make my predictions for Best Picture as I said I would. But for this post, I will update my predictions for Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine: Blanchett seems to be the surest thing in this category to be nominated so far. After having seen the movie, I can honestly see why and I am rooting for her to go for the gold. Surely, delivering a magnificent performance is like a walk in the park for Blanchett, but in this film, she packs plenty of emotion into one performance: humorous, vulnerable, angry, paranoid, and sad. Plus, the Academy does really love Cate Blanchett as she already has 5 nominations with 1 win for Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator, and Blue Jasmine is a Woody Allen movie, so that's another plus.

Sandra Bullock, Gravity: So far, in the Best Actress race, it seems to be a battle between Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock. I had recently seen Gravity and I think she will get nominated but unsure if she will win because she had recently won Best Actress back in 2010 for The Blind Side. Although I think she'll get nominated because even though Gravity is known for being a visual spectacle, like Avatar and Life of Pi and normally films like those are mostly recognized for their technical achievements, the Academy might want to recognize them for their performances this time around, so that could easily benefit Bullock at her shot at getting nominated.

Judi Dench, Philomena: Much like Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench is another Academy favorite, with six nominations under her belt and 1 win for Best Supporting Actress for Shakespeare in Love. I think not only that will benefit Dench but because she has Harvey Weinstein behind her and he is a staple at the Academy Awards. Plus, the film itself started to pick up steam when it was being screened at the Venice and Toronto Film Festival.

Julia Roberts/Meryl Streep, August: Osage County: I couldn't decide between the two because I have a feeling at least one of them will be entered into this category. Although it was announced a while ago that Meryl Streep will be campaigned for Best Supporting Actress to give Roberts a shot at Best Actress but sometimes there are supporting performances that get put into the lead category and vice versa. Either way, I think Meryl is pretty much a lock to get nominated because she is Meryl Streep, one of our greatest actresses with 17 nominations under her belt with 3 wins. Now onto Julia Roberts. I heard she is getting some of the best reviews of her career for her performance in August: Osage County and this seems to be a role out of her comfort zone. In the case of movie stars being nominated, they love rewarding movie stars who take on roles outside of their comfort zone with a nomination.

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks: With the steam that Saving Mr. Banks is picking up, Thompson could be like Mary Poppins use a magic umbrella to fly her way to the Oscars on Oscar night with a 4th Best Actress nomination under her belt. It would also be her 6th nomination overall, and she has won in the past twice for Best Actress for Howard's End and Best Adapted Screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. As I said before, the Academy does love to give veteran performers who have won for been nominated before in the past another shot at the gold, so that could very easily benefit Thompson. Not only that, but the fact that Saving Mr. Banks is a biopic and she is playing the real-life author of Mary Poppins named P.L. Travers and the Academy does love when actors portray real people.

Now onto the dark horse contenders that could "trot" their way into the Final Five:

Kate Winslet (Labor Day): Despite mixed reviews, critics said her performance was great. Plus, Winslet's another Academy darling.

Berenice Bejo (The Past): Won the Cannes Award for Best Actress, like other past nominees and winners for Best Actress (Holly Hunter, Meryl Streep, Brenda Blethyn, etc.)

Amy Adams (American Hustle): Depending on which category she'll be campaigned for and how big her part is. Would receive her 1st Best Actress nod and 5th overall.

Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color): There's plenty of buzz around Blue is the Warmest Color, but her chances at getting nominated depend on the controversy surrounding the film's NC-17 rating.

So, those are my picks for who I think will be nominated for Best Actress and who could be a possible dark horse contender thus far. If you agree or disagree or if there's any other possible contender you'd like to add, please feel free to write in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 Days of Halloween: Halloween (1978)

Hello, Bloggers, here is my final review of month-long segment "31 Days of Halloween" and hopefully you guys enjoyed all of my other reviews. So, I figured I'd make my final review to be for a classic film whose title is the same as the titular holiday: Halloween. Hope you enjoy and Happy Halloween, everybody!

                   Halloween is about a man named Michael Myers who has been put away in a mental institution since he was a child after he killed his sister. He then escapes and heads back to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to go on a killing spree. But the doctor who put him away, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) travels to Haddonfield to try to find Michael and Michael himself goes up against a young high school girl named Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).

                   What I Liked About It:
                  One thing that I loved about this film was just how suspenseful it was. I mean, you may know who the killer is in the beginning, but just wondering who or when he is going to strike next just keeps you on edge. So, it's one of those scary movies where you know that the scary stuff is going to happen, but you don't know when. Plus, what I thought was so scary about the film was the character of Michael Myers himself. He never says a word and just wears a pale mask, but the fact that he never shows any emotion and has quite a stillness to him is just unnerving. It should definitely come as no surprise that Michael Myers has become quite an iconic horror figure since the film's inception. Also, the film's famous score adds to the creep factor as well, mainly the opening piano theme.

                  Another thing that I really liked about the film is the simplicity of it. It takes a simple idea of a guy with a mask and knife stalking teenagers and really makes something out of it. Normally, when we see movies like this one screen, they are often replicated and usually too similar to each other, but Halloween is one that is able to stand out above the rest.

                 What I Didn't Like About It:

                Overall, Halloween is an exercise in sheer terror that is without a doubt, THE best slasher film to date. This is one that I would watch on Halloween, without a doubt, but at any other time of the year, it's still a good watch.

Rating: 5/5