Tuesday, 31 December 2013

28 Movies and TV Series to Look Forward to in 2014

The beginning of a new year always has been a very exciting thing. Even more when the new year will bring tones and tones of promises and new projects. 2014 will be overflowing with a multiple of films and series genre as usual: Tales replay, band of Superheroes, Blockbusters and author, which will make the heyday of this following year.  
Forget about your new year's resolutions, here's a list of films and series impossible to miss this year. 

Top 3 Series 
   #1 House of Cards season 2 will be out in February 2014. This series plunges us in the dark side of a Political world that is at time harshly real and tumultuous, along with its two main and very talented characters played by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. 
  #2 Marvel's Agents of SHIELD takes place after the Battle of New-York by the Avengers. Following the missions of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.On one hand references to the Marvel saga will be appreciated by the fans and on the other hand the well leaded action scenes will be enjoyed by the neophytes. 
  #3 Hannibal explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler. Screenplay, staging and photography are the corner stone of this series. Plus, a strong mentor-ship as connection between Graham, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers, and Dr.Lecter that is improved by the clear mental instability of both. 

Top 25 Films 
(Tales replay)
  #1 Maleficent, a superproduction of 200m$ for the "Sleeping Beauty" tale told from the perspective of the villainous Maleficent. Special effects signed by Robert Stromberg known for Hunger Games and Pan's Labyrinth. 
  #2 La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast tale made in France) starring Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux. 
  #3 Saving Mr.Banks,  the not so well known story of P.L Travers and Walt Disney meeting during production of the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins. this film promises a very special tour of Hollywood backstage.

(Band of Superheroes and Blockbusters) 
  #4 X-Men: Days of Future Past fourteen years after the first X-Men, the X-Men team send Wolverine to the past hoping that he will prevent an event in order to save both Human and Mutant race.Which is also a pretty good reason to see both young&old actors in the same roles. 

  #5 Captain America: The Winter Soldier follow the struggle of Steve Rogers to embrace his new role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old time history. This will have some serious repercussion on the Avengers Age of Ultron story. 
  #6 The Amazing Spider Man 2 will face two vilains this time, which will have some impacts in his private life as well. 
  #7 Divergent is a typical teenager saga, following the path of hunger Games. A young girl with a special mind finds her life threatened when an authoritarian leader seeks to exterminate her kind in her effort to seize control of their divided society.  
  #8 Noah directed by Darren Aronofsky reinvented the biblical history with a bunch of Academy Award winners. 
  #9 Transformers: Age of Extinction is kind of the same story as the first ones but with few new actors.   #10 Edge of Tomorrow is following a soldier finding himself caught in a time loop of his last day in a war against aliens. It could be the next Elysium Sci-Fi film. 
  #11 The Ryan Initiative / Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit directed by Kenneth Branagh promises to be as epic as his work on Thor has been to elevate it to a viable saga. The young CIA analyst role is fitting perfectly Chris Pine. 
  #12 3 days to Kill is the new film directed by Luc Besson, starring Kevin Costner as dying secret  service agent trying to reconnect his estranged daughter is offered an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment. 
  #13 American Hustle is a choral polar in a Martin Scorsese style dealing with a con man along with his seductive British partner forced to work for a wild FBI agent, who pushes them into a world of Jersey power-brokers and mafia.  
  #14 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes settles eight years after Caesar's rising. A group of few human survivors is threatening his growing forces. 
  #15 Interstellar directed by Christopher Nolan, starring one of the most talented actors of his generation : Matthew Mcconaughey. He is part of a group of explorers making use of a newly discovered technology in order to conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.  

  #16 YSL is a biopic of the French designer Yves Saint Laurent from the beginning of his career when he met his lover and business partner, Pierre Berge. 
  #17 Grace of Monaco is following the the story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly's crisis of marriage and identity, during a political dispute between Monaco's Prince Rainier III and Charles De Gaulle. 
(Love Story)
  #18 Can a Song Save your Life? Is actually a good question, the answer from a dejected music business executive forms a bond with a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan.
  #19  How I live Now is a romantic drama which could not have displeased Danny Boyle. 
  #20 Winter's Tale appeared to be a fantastic romance starring amongst the most famous actors such as Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connely, Will Smith, Matt Bomer, etc. The story deals with a burglar falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her. 
  #21 The F Word deals with the eternal question of any relationships : Can a friendship between a man and a woman exist ? -- Deja vue. 
  #22 Endless Love pictures a privileged girl and a charismatic boy whose instant desire sparks a love affair made only more reckless by parents trying to keep them apart. 
  #23 Nymphomaniac is the last provocation of the well known and scandalous director lars Von Trier. 
  #24 Labor Day is the adaptation of the novel written by Joyce Maynard with more or less darkness. 
  #25 12 Years a Slave from Solomon Northup point of view, a downward spiral of a free black man from upstate New-York, abducted and sold into slavery. This film is produced for the Oscar competition.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street promised to be THE film of this late 2013 and indeed, I can tell you that it was a successful gamble. After Django Unchained and The Great Gatsby earlier this year, Leonardo DiCaprio is joining (one more time) Martin Scorsese in one of the most overwhelming film ever produced.

The carefully set scenes of money, sex and drugs are efficiently paced by a non-stop and breathtaking rhythm. Which stops three times, based on several important parts of Jordan Belfort's life. His involvement in taking Steve Madden company public, his first divorce and when he tries to flee with his daughter. During the whole film a sort of sadistic atmosphere settles, little by little we can see the evolution of Jordan's character. He begins as a greedy trade connector and rise till his successful life as a wealthy stockbroker. A parallel narration is settled between Jordan and us as if he's trying to justify his criminal actions, it can be related to his thoughts, conscience or inner morale. It makes me think a lot of Kevin Spacey's character in House of Cards, who talks directly to us. In Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort is trying to explain why he' behaving like that. None of the FBI's point of view is shown, only the "bad guy" is display here which give him more credibility. He doesn't appear like a real white collar criminal, like a real threat, because all he does is having fun doing what he loves the most: earning money. Moreover this year must be very prolific for DiCaprio. Leo's acting all along this more or less three hours film is BRILLIANT and I don't know if it's Scorsese direction or just his talent but it makes the film works efficiently. Pointed out the moral and cultural decadence more than just the economic part of all this process. His "Empire" is compare to America : where you could choose to be who you want to be in a country where all you have to do his choose which opportunity you want. And obviously America always win. Jordan Belfort's fall involves both his private and public life. As on the one hand Jordan's wife is tired of all  his excess (drugs, pills, sex, alcool, etc.) and decides to divorce. And on the other hand his implication in crime and widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, as a result he is convicts of more than twenty official charges and sentenced to thirty-six month imprisonment.

Overall The Wolf of Wall Street is a Wall Street under steroids.  

Friday, 20 December 2013

Best Movies of 2013

End of the year is coming very soon and "best of the year" post are very popular among the internet bloggers. However I once said on twitter  ...

But I will (try) to do it anyway. And as the saying goes, only fools never change their minds.
After a long reflexion and really hard work on it; I came to the conclusion that I couldn't make a decision so easily. I watched so many good films this year, I have to admit that some of them were really bad as well but the selection was really tough.

Top 10:
           Zero Dark Thirteen
           The Company You Keep
           Django Unchained
           Iron Man III
           The Bling Ring
           The Great Gatsby
           The Butler
           Star Trek Into Darkness
           The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has been released on December 11th i-e four days ago, and it's already made up to more than $65 mil and on its way to $254 mil total. I enjoyed the first Hobbit film, and I was pretty excited to watch this next episode of the saga. I wasn't disappointed. I read Tolkien's books and let me tell you that Peter Jackson did pretty well so far.

He knew how to focus on character's emotions and personalities, with a full of actions as visual. Plus, it's interesting to see the evolution of those characters throughout the two first films, actors tried to wide their characters as tight as they can under their tragic forms. (It's good to see them be careful of what they deliver.) Obviously, we met for the first time Smaug. Who I think is the key character as we saw him briefly in the first film and imagined him since then, mostly through the story telling. Stories promise us an enormous dragon, much bigger than anything we could ever imagined. In this case, scale is very important as he is not just a dragon but a real threat. Therefore, Peter Jackson has done a brilliant job embodying Smaug with the Bafta winning actor Benedict Cumberbatch's voice. I have to admit that his voice is not easily recognizable but it fits very well. I guess it should have been a massive challenge for the production to create a speaking character where the most dominant thing is his personality. In fact, Smaug appeared to be a total psychopath. On the one hand his physical appearance is really important but on the other hand people will remembered more his voice, personality, how he behaved and how he moved and talk than how many teeth he has. P.Jackson knows where he is heading to, as well as his very talented actors. I highly recommend this film and all Jackson's adaptations of Tolkiens' work. Now we just have to wait for the third film. In which I hope the establishment of the first two films will be play out, especially character's stories and how their relationships between each others will end up. Plus, the Five army Battle promises to be epic!    

Overall The Hobbit is very good and the special effects are beautifully orchestrated.

Starting from the Beginning

Hello everyone, 

First things first: Presentation. 
I'm Alexa. I am fond of Cinema and I'm studying English in Paris. 

This is my second proper post here. And to be completely honest with you guys, I'm not really used to it yet. As far as I can remember I've always wanted to become a Film Critic and at the end of 2013, pushed by my parents I decided to join in on a very boring evening, "Off Screen Reviews" was born. Taking a leap of faith, writing, fingers crossed for someone to read what I had to say. By setting up my own blog I intend to do some short, simple but effective film and series reviews each week. Plus some bonus posts following the news along the way. 

I think in this digital age where we grow up, our generation has to take the opportunity to share our passion, what we love with as many people as we possibly can.  

Before getting to the heart of the matter, I'd like to tell you that Cinema is all about PERCEPTION. To me it's very important that you be aware that all views expressed here are mine. I'd like to point that out because people tend to think that if reviews on a specific film are bad: they won't go and see it. WRONG. You may love the film, as you may hate films with great reviews. 
Perception is personal, so trust yourself and if you feel like commenting and share your opinions, feel free to do so! 

Finally without further explanation... shall we begin ?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Shining Analysis

Shining is an American film released in 1980, screen played by Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson and directed by Stanley Kubrick himself.This film is based on a novel written by Stephen King, bestselling writer and master of suspense books. He has written Dead Zone, Stand By me, and Misery all three adapted to the cinema. Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind, Gyorgy Ligeti, Bela Bartok and Krzysztof Lloyd have composed the music. 

In it, we can hear magnificent melody mixed with rasping noise that we rediscovered throughout the film every time that a character having “The Shining” gets a vision. We find, in this film, Jack Nicholson awe-inspiring in his madness, as well as a young Danny Lloyd demonstrating a rare maturity for a young boy. Shining is completely based on acting. The young Danny Lloyd plays a little boy with “The Shining”, this gift is embody in a certain way by an imaginary friend named Tony, who lives in his mouth. Little by little Jack Nicholson let his talent came out, here to play a man with murderous madness. Role that he already played in Milo’s Forman film, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s nest, in 1975.In Shining, as he write his new book, his madness progressed, and the fact that he wants to stay alone tenfold his isolation. This link between his madness and the writing is explained afterward in the film, when Wendy, his wife, discovered that he wrote one and only sentence since the beginning: “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy”. New scenes are in this version of Shining, as the one when the doctor comes in the family house to see Danny after his first vision. Which let us see briefly this family’s past, mainly Jack’s alcohol problem that come back, later, when he moved to the Golden Room’s bar of the hotel.Is this evidence in order to put us on the trail of the evolution of Jack’s madness?Shining includes a very strong symbolic around the mirror and what is reflected inside, located in Jack and Wendy’s bedroom, this mirror reflect an idea of parallel world where this family’s story could be totally different.Danny uses this reflection to write on the bathroom door with a lipstick the word: “REDRUM”, what gives “MURDER” in the mirror’s reflection.This mirror is here as an eye. Several theories are possible.The first one, of a parallel world join the second one, which is the evolution of Jack’s madness, saw by his son, Danny in one of his vision. “REDRUM” can let us think of “RED ROOM” which could be a reference to the bathroom of the Golden Room that is red. Where Jack met Grady (the former custodian of the hotel), who helped him awareness that he must kill his wife and his son. This parallel world joins ours when Danny is attacked in the room 237 and Grady opened the door of the room where Wendy succeeded to lock Jack.At the beginning of the film, the labyrinth located in front of the hotel is introduced as an attraction. This idea seems very charming at first, but much less at the end with the famous pursuit. Evidences sown by Kubrick throughout the film leads the viewers to this final outcome. For instance, we could linked the moment when Wendy and Danny played in the labyrinth at the beginning with the picture of Jack who is walking alone in the hotel’s corridor and arriving in front of a labyrinth model which shows us the superiority of Jack’s madness. Let us return to this legendary outcome in the cinema history. Kubrick had chosen to never show us the position of Jack (relative to Danny) that increased prodigiously the suspense for the viewers. 

Finally, hundreds of scary films have been made but there probably just five of them that are genuinely creepy. Shining fits alongside of the Exorcist released in 1978 by William Friedkin as the best horror film of all time.