Sunday, September 28, 2014

Indie Review: Three Colors: Blue (1993)

   A Well-Constructed Demonstration Of Grief That Won't Exactly Make The Dedicated Cinephile Feel 'Blue'.

       Grief is probably one of the more basic human emotions. We are all going to experience it at some point in our lives, but in many different ways. Three Colors: Blue, or simply Blue, is a demonstration of grief that is done with realistic storytelling while incorporating beautiful symbolism.

        Three Colors: Blue follows the story of a famous composer's wife named Julie (Juliette Binoche) who slowly goes into a depressive state after her husband and child were killed in a car crash. As the film progresses, she slowly starts to detach herself from everything and everyone around her.

        The thing which I loved the most that, in my opinion, makes the film is the performance by Juliette Binoche. What makes this performance so outstanding is that even though Binoche plays a grieving woman, she mostly plays against our sympathy and doesn't go into "woe-is-me" or "I'M ANGRY" territory.  Binoche is a quiet force of nature in this and the power of her restraint helps carry this brilliant film.

        I also really liked the film's color scheme. The film's titular color, blue, follows our main heroine around and to me, it is a representation of Julie's depressed feelings. While she gets rid of most of her belongings, she even keeps a blue lamp in her house, which is a symbol of Julie holding onto her past and having a piece of her family with her, even though looking at it gives her an ache. That is very believable, in my opinion, since whenever most of us experience something really tragic or even really happy, whenever we have something that reminds us of that event, we always want to hold onto it, even when it breaks our hearts. Plus, the film even weaves in colors from the other two films in the Three Colors trilogy: Red and White. For example, there is a scene where Julie is swimming in a blue pool and kids with red bathing suits and white caps are suddenly jumping in. I thought that was a nice touch. Another thing I even noticed was the use of music. When Julie and her husband's assistant Olivier start to form a bond, the music becomes pretty raw and aggressive, which represents Julie's sensual passion, in my opinion. But other than that, the scenes with classical music suddenly thrown in have a much softer tune.

       Even though the film delves into the kind of story we've seen before of somebody discovering hidden secrets about his or her family and whatnot, this film is done differently. I thought the whole idea of someone detaching themselves from any type of human connection by not just alienating themselves from other people, but getting rid of all their belongings was interesting. That kind of detachment is what allows Binoche to showcase such complexity in her performance.


       Overall, Three Colors: Blue is a demonstration of grieving done with such flare and features a phenomenally-acted, multi-faceted performance by Juliette Binoche. The cinematography is beautiful, the music is well-constructed, and the story is done with such heart and soul.

         Would I Recommend It?:
       I would highly recommend it to all the cinephiles out there. This film is one that is shown in film classes and once you watch the film, you can see why.

Grade: A

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Trailer Talk #21: Big Eyes, Whiplash, A Most Violent Year, Horrible Bosses 2, The Boy Next Door, You're Not You

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Trailer Talk. It's been a slow movie season so I haven't really been to the movies since I last saw Boyhood. But luckily that should change once I see Gone Girl when that comes out. Plus, I found some more trailers online to review for you folks. Let's take a look:

Big Eyes: First up is the trailer for the upcoming biopic Big Eyes, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. Now, when I first heard about this film, I was like "Eh, alright", since I like the two leads and it is directed by Tim Burton. Judging by the trailer, you wouldn't know it was a Tim Burton movie, yet while it is nice that he is trying to reinvent himself, I was still quite disappointed when I saw the trailer. The film is a potential Oscar player, yet nothing about it screams "Oscar-worthy" to me. It doesn't look horrible, by any means, but what I saw was incredibly disappointing. If it gains any awards traction, maybe I'll check it out, but if not, I'll look for other Oscar players coming out.

Whiplash: Next up is the Sundance hit Whiplash, starring breakout star Miles Tiller and J.K. Simmons. When I heard about this film, I didn't think much of it. But when I finally saw the trailer, I was sold pretty quickly. J.K. Simmons, whose work I always loved, seems like he is doing a really good job as the incredibly stern musical instructor. This film looks to be another awards player, so I might see it when it comes out so that when Oscar Nomination day comes around, I would have plenty of work done. Plus, the film does look very good and intriguing. Yet, I am not even a drummer. I hope to check it out in theaters.

A Most Violent Year: Next is the trailer for A Most Violent Year, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Much like Big Eyes, when I first heard about this film, I was like "Eh, alright". But unlike Big Eyes, this is one I would see in theaters. I am a lover of dark thrillers so I am quite intrigued by this one. Like the first two trailers on this list, this one might be another Oscar player, so I could check it out for that reason and not just because of how intriguing it looks. Plus, I have become quite a fan of Jessica Chastain since her work in Tree of Life, Zero Dark Thirty, Mama, and even The Help, which is a film I didn't really like yet she was fantastic. This woman is destined for great things, much like Oscar Isaac, who I thought was so brilliant yet incredibly vile as the villain in Sucker Punch. The rest of the cast even includes David Oyelowo (The Butler) and Albert Brooks (Drive). I am slowly but surely sold on this film and might just check it out in theaters.

Horrible Bosses 2: Next is a film that certainly doesn't seem destined to be an awards player, the sequel Horrible Bosses 2. Now, I really liked the first one and when I heard they were making a second, I was pretty excited. I like how the original cast members are returning, with the exception of Colin Farrell (for obvious reasons for those that have seen the first). But some of the new cast members, including Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz, seem like they are doing quite good. Even though Waltz is playing yet another villain, that doesn't bug me too much since I love seeing him play the bad guy. I may check this one out in theaters.

The Boy Next Door: Next is the trailer for The Boy Next Door, starring Jennifer Lopez. When watching this trailer, I was just like, "WOW", as in "Wow, this looks terrible". It absolutely boggles me that J-Lo would even consider doing like this. I know that this woman can deliver when given good material, like The Cell and the film where she gives her best performance to date, Selena. But, judging by this trailer, I would've preferred that she read the script before reading the digits. Plus, the film looks very "Lifetime/soap opera-y". It feels like Fatal Attraction meets Abercrombie and Fitch. No way is this movie getting my 6 or 8 bucks.

You're Not You: Lastly is the trailer for You're Not You, starring Hilary Swank and Emmy Rossum. When I first heard about this film, I figured it'd be just another awards vehicle film for Hilary Swank since she tends to gear towards those types of films. Plus, she hasn't really been able to capitalize on her not one, but two Oscar wins. But after I saw the trailer, I wasn't overly impressed. Although, I do think that Emmy Rossum seems like she is doing a very nice job. I think she is an underrated talent and while this film might just be under everyone's radar, it still seems like a film where she really showcases her talents. Hilary Swank also seems like she is doing a nice job also. But this definitely doesn't seem like something I will see in theaters. Maybe I'll Redbox it.

Final Rating System:

Big Eyes: Meh
Whiplash: Eh, You've Peaked My Interest
A Most Violent Year: Eh, You've Peaked My Interest
Horrible Bosses 2: More Than Likely
The Boy Next Door: NO!
You're Not You: Rental

So, that was my latest episode of Trailer Talk. If you have seen any of the following trailers, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. My next episode will potentially be posted after I see Gone Girl. If not, then it'll be when I see new trailers online. Until then, thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Retro Review: The Sting (1973)

                                The Film Doesn't 'Sting' Like A Bee, Nor Even A Wasp

             One of a great film's key components is not just the story or even the acting, but the ending as well. The ending is usually when the biggest action takes place and if it fails, it can hurt the film significantly but if it succeeds, then it makes for a truly wonderful film. Fortunately, The Sting does the latter rather than the former.

       The Sting follows the story of a grifter named Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) who is on the run and heads to Chicago to team up with an old former con man named Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman). Together, Hooker and Gondorff look to pull off a big con, or "sting", against a crime boss named Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) in order to win a fortune by staging a fake betting parlor for horse racing.

      One thing that I really liked was the film's score by Scott Joplin and Marvin Hamlisch. I especially liked the film's opening theme that keeps playing in my head. I feel that the film's upbeat ragtime score is in sync with the 30's time period that the film is set in. It gives the film quite a bit of energy. Another thing I liked was the film's use of title cards before each chapter. I thought those gave the film a nice touch and of course fit the whole 30's era.

       But one thing I liked about the story was how it takes its time to set up the big "sting". Slowly, we get to know the main characters and steadily watch then come up with their big plan. The reason that works so well is because by the end, when the "sting" takes place, it hits you like "wow". It's like lava slowly going up the pipe in a volcano, but in a good way. I also really liked the ending. I definitely don't want to give it away for those that haven't seen it, but I'll just say that in the end, it showed where the film's real comedy lies since the film is marketed as a comedy crime caper. But some of the scenes between Newman and Redford did make for some comedic relief as well. Other than that, I found that there were maybe one or two humanistic scenes that give the film not just drama but heart as well. That's why I thought this was a slightly better con  film than, say, American Hustle. While Hustle was an entertaining, in-your-face romp, after repeated viewings, I thought the film's only depth and heart came from the actors which makes sense since that is more of an actor's movie than this is, but that's not the point.


      Overall, The Sting is a dynamite crime caper filled with great storytelling, brilliant chemistry from Newman and Redford, and above all, heart. It doesn't take little time with its story yet doesn't go overboard and when the pay-off at the end happens, it hits you like "Wow".

       Would I Recommend It?:
      Definitely. I would say give it a rent because it is an essential classic and for those that follow the Oscars, won Best Picture. Plus, if you like Newman and Redford, put this high on your watch list.

Grade: A

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Retro Review: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

                             'Bonnie and Clyde': A Dynamite Portrait Of Violent Youth

       Whenever there is a film that comes out that critics or audiences don't know how to warm up to or really warm up to, it is usually a film that changes the game for cinema, whether it'd be Pulp Fiction which started the trend of non-linear storytelling or Brokeback Mountain which was a boundary breaker in terms of romance films. Bonnie and Clyde, however, was a film that people were unsure how to warm up to, yet today is considered an essential piece of filmmaking.

       Bonnie and Clyde follows the story of two youngsters named Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty). They are both bank robbers who fall in love after a chance encounter yet start to find themselves on the run from the law.

      One thing that I liked which surprised me was how the film manages to become more humanistic as the film progresses. Once Bonnie and Clyde find themselves on the run and Clyde's family starts to get involved, we begin to see that these are two youngsters trapped by their own choices. The film is very much about rebellious youth and it shows that even though these two people are violent bank robbers, they are practically still youngsters. There is even a scene where Bonnie says how she misses her mother. So, the film doesn't just demonstrate youth and violence, but how these youths are affected by their own doing.

     I also thought the performances by the two leads were spectacular. Warren Beatty brings such spectacular and utter charm to the role of cunning bank robber Clyde while Faye Dunaway is equally as charming and devious yet is a bit more vulnerable. The two of them have such rich chemistry and I found myself on their side. Apparently, when the film came out, it received a lot of controversy for making the criminals the heroes as well as for its violence, but that's only because at the time, making the criminals the heroes hadn't really been done and I think critics just didn't know how to warm up to a film like that. It is like of like how when Brokeback Mountain came out, there were plenty that didn't know how to warm up to a romance between two gay cowboys. So it was a real game changer when it came out and is still very essential to this day.


      Overall,  Bonnie and Clyde is an essential piece of cinema that features dynamite, star-making performances from its two charismatic leads. It is a violent tale that still manages to serve as a morality tale about two violent youngsters that at the end of the day are still youngsters.

       Would I Recommend It?:
       Absolutely. It is a classic and even though it has its fair share of violent scenes, it's nothing too crazy. At the time, it was considered crazy, but now, it wouldn't be. Although, this film was one of, if not the first, to open the door for more films about sex and violence.

Grade: A

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dream Cast: Which Avengers Should Appear On The Big Screen

Hello, Bloggers, even though The Avengers 2 doesn't come out until next year, I figured that, just for fun, I would attempt to cast a few Avengers I would at least love to see appear in this franchise or at least in their own films that we haven't seen thus far. Lets take a look:


So, Ant-Man, Vision, Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch, and I believe Wasp are all appearing on the big screen. But if there is one Avenger I would love to see get his own film, it is hands down Black Panther. As I recall, Stan Lee said a Black Panther movie is a go and I would say make it happen. There are rumblings of a Black Widow movie and most of the white male heroes have their own franchises, so why not shine a light on a black hero? If the Black Panther movie really does come to fruition, my cast pick would be David Oyelowo, who you might remember from The Butler, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help, and will be seen in the upcoming Interstellar. He is a very terrific actor and fortunately is not too young yet yet not too old. Not only that, but he is an affordable choice and that is one thing to consider when picking their actors. Plus, he already has a background in sci-fi and in The Butler, he did play a member of the "Black Panthers". Could that be a possible foreshadowing?

Next up is somebody who I think should take part in an Avengers movie. That hero, or heroine, is Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel. Even though The Avengers has Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Maria Hill, I'm sure those three will want a little more company in terms of females on the team. Originally I went with Elizabeth Banks but she is a bit too old so I went with yet another actress that has a background in sci-fi, but on a smaller scale. That actress is known as Brit Marling. Not many people are too familiar with her since she is a very indie actress but I have seen her work in her debut feature Another Earth, which she was a brilliant in and since she wrote it, she has a very interesting eye for sci-fi. Like I said, she already has a background in science fiction, so it would be very neat to see her do that type of film on a larger scale. Plus, since Chris Evans might direct a future Marvel movie, Marling could easily write a future Marvel movie and bring her visual eye to mainstream viewers.

Those are only a few Avengers and there are plenty more that others would love to see brought to life like Doctor Strange, who will possibly be portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix (quite a casting choice). If there are any other Avengers you'd like to see be brought to life, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section and even say who you think should play each character. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another 31 Days of Halloween (Coming Soon)

Hello, Bloggers, I just wanted to give you guys a heads-up and inform you that this October, I will potentially do another month-long segment devoted to the holiday of Halloween where I discuss all stuff horror. Here is a short sampling of what film reviews, lists and whatnot will be in store for next month:

Child's Play
The Fog
The Faculty
American Psycho
Top 10 Scariest Non-Horror Movies
Let The Right One In
Friday the 13th (1980)
The Wicker Man (1973)
Halloween II (2009)
Final Destination
Trick 'r Treat

So, that was my short sampling and I look forward to once again revisiting the month of October to celebrate the spirit of Halloween by discussing all things horror. Until then, you can check out my reviews from last October from the original 31 Days Of Halloween. Keep in mind, I do take requests, so if there is any film or horror film you would like me to review, PLEASE feel free to tell me. I will gladly try and watch whatever film you ask me to. Thanks for reading!

Oscars 2015: Julianne Moore Might Be Back In The Oscar Race

So earlier I updated my Best Actress predictions because I figured that Julianne Moore would be out of the running for her performance in Maps To The Stars. But Sony Pictures Classics just acquired her other film to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival: Still Alice. So, I guess I could still put down Shailene Woodley as a dark horse for Fault In Our Stars and potentially put Moore back in the actual list, making it look like this:

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Jessica Chastain, Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

So far, I know Reese Witherspoon is in strong contention for her role in Wild and an apparent lock for a nomination which would allow her to recapture her former Oscar glory after a string of flops (How Do You Know, Rendition, etc.) and little-seen indies (Devil's Knot) that she took part in after her Oscar win for Best Actress for Walk The Line back in '05. There is also perennially nominated and 0-5 Amy Adams to look out for since she has the Weinstein biopic Big Eyes under her belt and Jessica Chastain, who has a string of films set for release this year, including The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. But one trend I've been noticing is that we are seeing plenty of actresses in contention that haven't won before or are overdue in both the Lead and Supporting categories: Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, etc. I would've said Viola Davis since she has Get On Up but that film received such a lukewarm reception and did "Eh" at the box office. Originally, I had Michelle Williams for Suite Francaise, but who knows if that is even coming out soon.

The Oscar race is usually quite unpredictable and typically it is the festivals like Toronto and New York that are strong indicators as to who will be a strong contender. I mean, at last year's Toronto Film Festival, it seemed like Michael Fassbender would be a lock to win BSA for 12 Years A Slave until Dallas Buyers Club screened and all the buzz went to Jared Leto, who eventually won and cleaned up very well in the awards circuit. I'm sure that even when Cate Blanchett was said to be a lock for Best Actress for Blue Jasmine, another actress could've stolen her thunder because her film came out later in the year. Now that I think about it, I don't necessarily like to say a particular film or actor is a lock to be nominated for a major category since come Oscar nomination day, anything is possible. Remember last year when Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow were largely expected to be nominated for Best Director, yet they got snubbed. Even when an actor has almost every precursor nod under their belt, they could be swapped for somebody else. In fact, if you get nominated for everything except a SAG, then they could easily swap you for the actor that took your spot at the SAGs and that is the actor's guild. (i.e., Michael Fassbender taken off from Best Actor category for Shame in favor of Demian Bichir for A Better Life, Andrew Garfield snubbed for Best Supporting Actor for The Social Network in favor of John Hawkes for Winter's Bone, etc.) So, I would say, when it comes to the actors who get nominated by the different awards shows, pay close attention to the SAG nominees until Oscar nomination day since they are usually strong indicators as to who will actually get in.

So, that was another update of the Best Actress category and my reminder of how unpredictable the Oscar race is. Hope you enjoyed this post and as always, feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading and here is to a great awards season!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Oscars 2015: Best Actress (Updated)

Hello, Bloggers, it has just been updated that Julianne Moore might be sitting out on this year's Oscar race and potentially won't be in contention for Maps To The Stars. Since she was in my final five, I figured that just to be safe, I will do a quick update on my picks.

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Jessica Chastain, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby/A Most Violent Year
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Shailene Woodley, The Fault In Our Stars

So far, I have kept Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Rosamund Pike, and Reese Witherspoon. However, I picked Chastain for either Eleanor Rigby or A Most Violent Year since she could be contention for either. Although I could see them leaning towards the former rather than the latter. Usually in the Best Actress category, they nominate those that are either front and center in their films or at least a co-lead. For example, Amy Adams is in contention for Big Eyes, which is about Margaret Keane, who she plays. Rosamund Pike has Gone Girl, where she plays the "Gone Girl". Reese Witherspoon has Wild, which is practically a one-woman show and Jessica Chastain has The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. She is Eleanor Rigby. Plus, Shailene Woodley has The Fault In Our Stars, which is about her character and her relationship with a fellow cancer patient. But, more onto Woodley. I feel that Woodley could possibly land a nomination because since Jennifer Lawrence has nothing in contention, they are going to want to recognize at least one young ingenue like how Rooney Mara was nominated for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo alongside much older players. Not only that, but Woodley did manage to make Hollywood quite a bit of money thanks to her two number one hits Divergent and Fault In Our Stars. So, that could be a factor. It worked for Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, and even Will Smith who scored wins and nominations for making Hollywood a boatload of dough and not just their performances. If she does get in, then that would be wonderful since I thought she got cruelly snubbed for her work in The Descendants. But there are some potential dark horses that could get in like Hilary Swank for The Homesman and Meryl Streep for Into The Woods. Although Hilary Swank already has two and her film has a smaller distributor and the potential "Streep fatigue" could set in. I would prefer that Meryl Streep doesn't get nominated just to allow some new blood into the category but I wouldn't be surprised if they did nominate her. I do think she is wonderful, I just think that they should shine a light on some newer faces.

Anyways, those are my updated predictions for the Best Actress category. They will more than likely change as the Oscar race continues. But until I continue my Oscar coverage, thanks for reading!

Retro Review: The Conversation (1974)

          A Highly Haunting Thriller That Is One To Be Part of the Essential Film 'Conversation'

        Sound is something that usually enhances a film-watching experience. It is rare, however, when sound is what drives a film's story. The Conversation is one of those rare films that has sound, like the musical score, driving its story forward and making the film engaging through its sheer simplicity.

       The Conversation follows the story of a surveillance expert named Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) who is order to observe a couple and listen to their conversation. However, one thing the man in the couple says is hidden by the sound of music and Harry tries to analyze it. Once he does, he then finds himself more obsessed and feelings of guilt over a past case begin to haunt him.

       One thing that I really loved was how the film gives us quite a demonstration of our main character. We see that Harry is not only a recluse by the way he presents himself to others but his home as well. He has no telephone in his house and his front door is padded with locks, which shows just how paranoid he is. Yet the audience isn't very uneasy about being on his side since Gene Hackman makes for a very sympathetic character even though in his guilt-ridden moments, he doesn't play the part for pity. So, Gene Hackman creates a really complex character with Harry Caul. Another actor I'd like to bring up is John Cazale, who plays Harry's partner Stan, who becomes increasingly agitated with Harry's social withdrawal. Cazale plays a character that is a bit sunnier than Fredo from The Godfather, who is much more timid and I thought Cazale had a great supporting presence. It is quite amazing how he had both this and The Godfather: Part II the very same year.

       I also really liked the film's score by David Shire. It is very haunting and helps the film use sound to drive itself forward. The film is very based on its sound, whether it'd be the musical score or when Harry plays back tapes of the conversations he records. Speaking of which, those are some of my favorite scenes. The scenes where Harry is listening to the main couple's conversation are quite intense since Harry is trying to dig deep into what they are saying and the music helps elevate the suspense. Like I said, the sound is what really helps the film drive. I feel that is because the film has a rather quiet tone yet I would say that kind of tone is what makes this film rather different from other thrillers. Plus, it really gives the film quite a level of unnerving simplicity.


       Overall, The Conversation is a rather quietly intense paranoid thriller that features a uniquely commanding performance by Gene Hackman. This film manages to give a haunting feel through the use of its score and tapes played back over and over yet I was just hooked.

         Would I Recommend It?
        If you are a fan of director Francis Ford Coppola, then I would say absolutely. This is one of his more underrated films and if you like his work or if you like thrillers, I would put this high on your watch list.

Grade: A+


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Trailer Talk #20: Men, Women, and Children, Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Maps to the Stars, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Trash

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to a special episode of Trailer Talk. For today's episode, I will be discussing the trailers for upcoming potential Oscar players this year. Let's take a look at those six films:

Men, Women, and Children: First up is Men, Women, and Children starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Emma Thompson, and Ansel Elgort of Divergent fame. It is also being directed by Jason Reitman of Juno and Up in the Air fame. I have become quite fond of Reitman's work and I am really looking forward to this one coming out. Another reason I am intrigued is the story which deals with how we are glued to social technology and the film even has what people are writing over their heads. I think that is fascinating. Plus, I would love to see Adam Sandler potentially make a great movie again and I could forgive him for some of the last films he churned out in the past few years. Overall, this is high on my watch list.

Theory of Everything: Next is the trailer for the upcoming Stephen Hawking biopic Theory of Everything. Now, this one isn't very high on my watch list. Not necessarily because it is another biopic, but watching the trailer makes the film seem like A Beautiful Mind 2.0. I wasn't overly fond with A Beautiful Mind and who knows if I'll be overly fond of this one. It does have some great people in it like Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis aka Professor Lupin from Harry Potter, and Emily Watson. If the film does get plenty of Oscar heat and nominations in the different guilds, I'll give it a watch, but if not, I'll look elsewhere.

The Imitation Game: Next up is Harvey Weinstein's potential major Oscar player The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Now, before I saw the trailer and heard about this film, I thought to myself "Oh boy, more Oscar bait". But after seeing the trailer, my opinion slightly differentiated. I am not super excited about it, but I'm not like "Oh, heck no". I do think Benedict Cumberbatch is a terrific actor and I'm sure he will be superb. But, like with Theory of Everything, I'll wait for the guilds to make their decisions before I check it out so that when nomination day comes out, I'll have had plenty of work done.

Maps to the Stars: Next is the trailer for the indie Maps to the Stars starring Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, and Mia Wasikowska. Quite a cast, I might add. I know that Robert Pattinson gets a lot of crud for obvious reasons (*cough* Twilight*cough*), but I am willing to give him a chance outside of that franchise. Plus, the film has David Cronenberg (Videodrome, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises) behind it and I am quite fond of his work. I am also a Julianne Moore fan and while it was announced she won't get a huge Oscar push, I will still potentially check this out if it plays anywhere near me.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Next is the trailer for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. Originally this film was split into two parts called Him and Her but were mashed together into a film called Them. I am not sure whether to watch the original parts or Them, but I know I am unsure about watching this film. It doesn't look horrible yet I can't make out exactly what it is about nor do I think this has a whole lot of originality, but that's just my opinion. Jessica Chastain is a brilliant actress and one that I hope is bound of Oscar glory but who knows if this'll be the film that'll take her there.

Trash: Lastly is the trailer for Trash starring Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen. While Theory of Everything feels like A Beautiful Mind 2.0, Trash feels like a mashup of past Oscar films. It looks like City of God meets Slumdog Millionaire meets The Help. The opening of the trailer has one of the three children explaining his story to the white female, played by Rooney Mara, and I just couldn't help but think of The Help which had the struggling maids explaining their story to the central white protagonist. I worry that it'll feel like another one of those "whitey saves all" movies which I am not overly fond of. So, it's safe to say that, despite the casting of Rooney Mara and Martin Sheen, I am going to "toss" the opportunity to see Trash.

For the first time, I will use a special rating scale to rate my excitement for each film based on their respective trailers with the use of different phrases: Gotta See It means 5, More Than Likely means 4, Eh, You've Peaked My Interest means 3, Rental means 2, NO! means 1.

Men, Women, and Children: Gotta See It!
Theory of Everything: Meh
The Imitation Game: Eh, You've Peaked My Interest
Maps to the Stars: More Than Likely
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Rental
Trash: NO!

So, that was my 20th and special episode of Trailer Talk. Please feel free to write whether you are excited for these films or not in the comments section. As always, the next episode will happen when I have seen a bunch of new trailers on the Internet or when I see a new film in theaters (which might not be for a while since there is nothing playing this month). But until then, thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Retro Review: American Graffiti (1973)

                                   'American Graffiti' Sprays Such Colorful Paint

            Whenever I go to karaoke, the typical older crowd tends to sing songs from an older era. Usually they sing songs from this film's soundtrack. When writing this review, it got me thinking about how this film demonstrates the era this film is set in and how it carries over the generations that would follow. However, American Graffiti does it in such a spontaneous and less tragic way.
      American Graffiti follows the stories of different former high school buddies: Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve (Ron Howard) and his girlfriend Laurie (Cindy Williams), Toad (Charles Martin Smith), and John (Paul Le Mat), on their final night of summer. Curt and Steve are set to leave for college but Curt finds himself unsure of whether or not to stay home. But while Curt, Steve, and Laurie go to a back to school hop at their old school, Toad and John decide to cruise and a chain of events then begin to occur.

      The thing that I loved the most about this film is just the simplicity of it. The film is literally a loose narrative about teenagers transitioning into adulthood yet I was completely hooked. It was so fascinating watching these characters go through arcs and go through the motions. This film even has what many coming-of-age films should have: Characters that the viewer can identify with. You have Curt, the college-bound student unsure of whether he wants to continue. Yet you also have Steve and Laurie, two lovebirds that find out how hard love is. Plus, you have Toad, the timid student that slowly comes out of his shell. The ones I felt the most connected with are Curt and Toad since there was one point where I was unsure of whether I wanted to continue my college education and I was an outsider in high school that slowly became more social. If anybody wants to create a coming of age story, then I would watch this film and take notes.

      Another thing I really liked was the soundtrack. One reason is that a bunch of the songs that are put in I tend to hear sung by other people at karaoke. But now that I think about it, since the songs are from the late 50's and early 60's and the film was made in the 70's, the use of older music captures the feeling of holding on to that generation.

      The film even takes us back to a time with carhops delivering at drive-in restaurants, back to school hops, and cruising. The way I see it, the film being set in that time period is a demonstration of being stuck in the past and having that time period having a great influence over us as the years will pass. It's kind of like the crowd of people at karaoke that sing older songs from their generation.


       Overall, American Graffiti is a well-orchestrated coming-of-age story that is such an amazing throwback to a simpler era. Not only that, but it will satisfy those that are suckers for nostalgia, like myself. It is a rare gem that has a loose narrative yet still glues you in and it was done almost to perfection.

       Would I Recommend It?:
       ABSOLUTELY. This is a must for everybody: those that love to analyze film, those that want to write movies, and people who love movies. Everybody see this. It is a must!

Grade: A+

Monday, September 1, 2014

Film Guy Summer Movie Awards

Hello, Bloggers, since the summer movie season has officially come to a close, I figured that I'd give a rundown of my own special awards for the films that I saw this summer season. Here we go:

Worst Movie: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I didn't have sky-high expectations for this film, but I didn't expect to be such a jumbled mess. It does have nice visuals and a wonderful performance by Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, but there just isn't much that is redeemable about this film that feels more like a trailer for the upcoming Sinister Six. It's kind of like how the upcoming Batman/Superman film will just feel like a trailer for Justice League, but that's another story.

Best Villain: Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer

Every time Tilda Swinton came on screen in Snowpiercer, she just ate up the scenery. Not only was she playing a rather despicable villain, but she is just a treat to watch with her special accent and heavy makeup. Apparently, she is going to be submitted for Oscar consideration and I can certainly hope so.

Best Star To Show He's Still Got It: Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow

While I did enjoy Edge of Tomorrow, if there is one thing that I took away from it, it is that Tom Cruise's performance is a reminder of why he is a film star. Regardless of what you may think of him as a person, his talent and on-screen charisma still can't be denied.

Best Use of Music: Guardians of the Galaxy

When I went to go see Guardians in the theaters, I remember getting such a kick out of the 70's/80's soundtrack. It includes songs ranging from "Cherry Bomb" to "Hooked On A Feeling" to "I Want You Back" and I just found myself "hooked".

Best Motion Capture Performance: Toby Kebbell in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

While I went into Dawn expecting to be amazed by Andy Serkis, amazingly it was Toby Kebbell who stole the film as the villain Koba. Andy Serkis was great as Caesar, but Toby Kebbell was the true standout in my opinion as the manipulative yet chilling and tormented antagonist.

HM: Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy, Andy Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Best Sequel: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Before I saw Boyhood, I thought this was the best film of the year. But I thought that it was the best sequel to come out this summer as well that really surpasses its predecessor.

HM: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Femme: Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men: Days of Future Past

J-Law delivers once again as the literally chameleonic Mystique. Lawrence was go badass as the lone ranger that she makes me wish that the potential Mystique film comes into fruition.

Best Film To Live Up To My Expectations (Sort Of): Godzilla

While I did enjoy Godzilla as a fun monster movie, I did have a few minor complaints. In particular, with the character development. But it was still a fun ride.

Best Film To Surpass My Expectations: Guardians of the Galaxy

Going into the film, I expected a fun summer flick. But what I got was the most fun I've had all summer. It has humor, action, a kicking soundtrack, and most of all, heart. It is a wonderful throwback to the actioners from the 70's and is a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the serious or quasi-serious superhero flicks nowadays. I still can't the song "Hooked On A Feeling" from the trailer out of my head, but I doubt I want to.

Best TV Movie: The Normal Heart

The Normal Heart was such a gut-wrencher that I was not prepared for. yet I absolutely loved it. It did almost make me cry a couple times, but it was able to give me perspective on the horrific AIDS disease and I believe that was the film's purpose: to make us open our eyes.

Best Movie: Boyhood

Surprisingly, the best film I've seen this summer was not an actioner. Ironically, this is the last film I saw this summer movie season, yet it ended that season on quite a high note.