Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Into the Woods

A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.



Into the Woods is a fairytale movie directed by Rob Marshall, incorporating a lot of fairytale and a lot of singing; starring Meryl Streep,  Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, James Corden and Emily Blunt. This movie is like Les Misérables where they sing 90% of the dialogue. Just putting it out there but if you don't like that just know it has a lot of it. Moreover, all the cast is doing a pretty good job: from Meryl Streep (once again Oscar nominated for best actress in a supporting role) to Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt. I do like good music in a movie and every song was really in tune and blend well together. Plus, I like fairytale as I grew up with pretty much all of these, to the point where now I missed Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin and his "All magic comes with a price dairy...". However, in the third act the movie kept going past a point it should not and that segment of the film is a little bit disappointing and almost boring. Finally there are actually some twists and turns in the final quarter that conflict with everything from the beginning. The last 25% kills the mood of the previous 75%. 


Overall if you like fairy tales and musical you are going to like this film as it takes everything from your childhood and weave it to one giant story. The performances are solid and the movie pretty much worked for what it was.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Imitation Game

During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.



The Imitation Game stars a brilliant bunch of British actors such as Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mathew Goode, Allen Leech, Charles Dance and Mark Strong. I've already heard quite a bit about this movie so I was really eager to see it and I had the opportunity to attend a premiere of the film on Monday evening. A brilliant, brilliant, brilliant work by Benedict Cumberbatch. The man is a masterful actor, he's genuinely good in this movie; me writing those things about how amazing he is, it's almost a cliché at this point. He just nailed it and 300% deserves his Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role. In addition to be well performed this film is also very well directed by Morten Tyldum, who is nominated for best director as well. The work he did with this film by portraying this time period in which people were actually fighting a war without ever touching any guns, it feels like their purpose is even more important than the physical combats that are going on. Moreover, Alan Turing is not the most likable person at first, a bit rude but really smart. It's complicated to understand him but through Benedict Cumberbatch performance, the script and the direction you just find yourself liking this man. This movie is not just about a man who is gay in a time period where it was literally illegal. It's largely about the struggle of hiding who you are and the difficulties that come with it. I think Cumberbatch got it right: the pain and torture it must be for someone to imitate something you're not.


Overall this film looks terrific, the score and performances are excellent and the dialogue is so good that at one point you don't think at it like a dialogue anymore as you're so invested in the movie and the plot. It well deserves its Oscar nomination for Best picture.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Taken 3

Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skill to find the true killer and clear his name. 



Another Taken movie... again directed by Olivier Megaton and starring Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen. Taken was a great new thing, it was exciting to see Liam Neeson kicking asses; the second one however was terrible, it featured some of the worst filmed action I've ever seen; so no, I wasn't excited for the third one.  Basically the story is very similar to The Fugitive (1993) with Harrison Ford, which is by the way a much better movie. Taken 3 was bad. It's not often that I'm writing and thinking that of a movie. In fact usually I try to avoid movies I know will be that bad or I'll be disappointed by. It's like a sixth sense, sometimes those movies are predictable. Nonetheless I love Liam Neeson, I love this man. He's awesome, like Denzel Washington, they can ad credibility to anything. Unfortunately in this movie he's set with an idiotic script and so many inconsistencies. Plus, the movie is on for about an hour when Liam Neeson finally kicks ass; and this bad ass character is so different than in the first movie. Here he's bad ass to an unrealistic degree. Beside that there's nothing better I'm afraid: this movie is directed, edited and shot so badly that I'd like to speak with Luc Besson just to make sure that he knows what is happening with the sequels of his original movie. The action is even worst than in the second movie. There are too many shots that blur by within a second that you're assaulted with a lot of images. Plus, it doesn't look convincing at all. Nothing in this movie make sense from the first scene. Taken has become The Hungover movies: first one was great and everything that followed was BAD.  It went from a cool unique experience in which they kidnapped this girl and the guys were messing with the wrong family, you were truly intrigued, you needed to follow the trail and get his daughter back; to a Fugitive shitty reboot. 


Overall Taken 3 is a very dumb watchable movie with terrible action but an awesome likable hero. Though the poster says "It ends here" and I really hope so.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Foxcatcher

The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul - a union that leads to unlikely circumstances. 



Foxcatcher is directed by Oscar nominated Bennett Miller, stars Steve Carell also nominated for best actor in a leading role, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. In fact Steve Carell performance is very good, he's properly unrecognisable. At this point, his performance is clearly career defining. Plus in my opinion Channing Tatum is largely underestimated. He gives a performance that is so restrained and in which you can read so much on his face, some moments you can literally feel his pain and torment. Mark Ruffalo plays a father who is very protective of his family but also of his brother and he also deserves his Oscar nomination for best actor in a supporting role. In fact, all those three performances are Oscar worthy to me or at least nomination worthy as the movie cannot function without them. However it is a quite slow paced movie, there are few 5 to 10 minutes long sequences and you are left wondering what was the real purpose of those scenes. This movie is based on a true story and tries to make a statement on why Dupont did what he did. The emotional core of the movie is very hollow and distant. As I said before I think Channing Tatum is the lead actor in this film; some of you can disagree and think that it is Steve Carell, but Tatum's character is the only one I really felt connected with. Finally, if you combined the slow pace, the blank emotional core and the fact that you can't really understand some of the character motivation behind this film it's a little bit disappointing. 


Overall Foxcatcher is a beautifully shot movie with some out of this world performances but the heart and soul of the film itself is a little bit distasteful.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Theory of Everything

"One: remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two: never give up work. Work gives you meaning, purpose and life is simply empty without it. Three: if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away." 
                                                                                           
"However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope."  
                        - Stephen Hawking


The Theory of Everything deals with the life of the famous physicist Stephen Hawking. If you don't know who he is: he's arguably the most brilliant mind alive today; and his life from school to when he gets this disease and if you also don't know what it is: it's pretty much why you dumped a bucket of ice on your head last summer. In this movie Eddie Redmayne gives a really impressive performance embodying this physicist; performance which grants him an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role. In fact, as it is a progressive disease, every stage of this disease is like a completely new performance for him. You witnessed how he has to adapt and communicate in certain way. All this process of learning how to cope with this terrible disease, how  how his family's relations change throughout the film and his romance is very interesting. Undeniably Felicity Jones is an absolute revelation, she is incredible, and totally deserves her Oscar nomination for best actress in a leading role. They both brilliantly portrayed good people in a shitty situation. Above all this film is about all Stephen Hawking's life aspects: from schooling, his theory, his disease and his relationships. However the film is not really showcasing and focusing mainly on his theory but on his life journey. The little chunks of science are really accessible though, as Stephen Hawking is explaining his theory such as everyone can get it. Finally, there are twists and turns that surprised me at times. Now I really hope Jupiter Ascending is good because otherwise it will ruin Eddie Redmayne' career and I am going to be really really sad. 


Overall The Theory of Everything fully deserves its Oscar nomination for best picture, it is really good. It is an engaging, romantic and touching movie.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into a exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthrals all who encounter her - but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.



I did not get the chance to review this film when it was released last June and recently I've been to Studio Ghibli Layout Designs Exhibition in Paris with a friend of mine. So I decided to skip the usually bad first week of the year horror movie (cf Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Marked Ones and this year new Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death) and pay a tribute to which is in y opinion one of the greatest animation studio in existence. Please keep making movies! 
This newly Oscar nominated movie for best animated feature film is directed by Isao Takahata who brought us Grave of the Fireflies. This story is based on a Japanese folklore tale called The Bamboo Cutter. I remember being very excited for this movie as Studio Ghibli made some of the best animated entertainment ever. In fact, Hayao Miyazaki's movies alone are some of the best movies ever made, not only animated movies and the Studio continues their reign of awesomeness with this film. It is such a unique and original looking animated. I had never seen a movie like this before; with some bold and rich colourful art work that literally leap out of the screen without any computerised elements getting involved in the process. Naturally you can totally tell that the artists created this movie with their hands from scratch. Moreover, Studio Ghibli's films are largely viewed as kid movies such as Princess Mononoke but they aren't only kid movies. This movie in particular actually has a mature and realistic look at life as this girl grow up in the wilderness, you see her enjoy life, she loves it; and when she's forced to take this princess role, life becomes really hard for her as various suiters come and try to woo her. You get to see a girl who doesn't understand her place in the world, which is a theme well explored in many movies. At last that was one of the numerous things I loved about this film, it takes this idea so seriously, shows such a mature, realistic and not glossy portrait of what life can be like sometimes for teenagers. There isn't a part of this film that feels fictional not even some of the supernatural elements that are happening which by the way are moments of extreme beauty. 


Overall The Tale of the Princess Kaguya largely deserves this best animated feature Oscar nomination. It is a movie of rare beauty, emotion, extreme child-like wonder and glee. One of Studio Ghibli's prettiest/best movie.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Whiplash

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realise a student's potential. 


I finally got to see Whiplash starring Miles Teller and J.K Simmons. I remember the first time I noticed Miles Teller in a movie and that was in The Spectacular Now; with those two films he has shown us that he has a lot of talent and here especially on the drum. However, J.K Simmons in this film is an absolute revelation. He's brilliant and totally Oscar worthy. What's the most beautiful aspect of this movie is the drive Teller's character feels, this desire he has to be great, this passion he has for this subject and how he struggles to express it to his family. Every person with a dream and a passion for a particular subject where you know everything there is to know about it can understand that. Sometimes it can be hard to communicate this idea to someone else, make them understand and appreciate it as you do. This is a psychological film. This movie is so much more than just music, it's a psychological battle between two people who believe so strongly in their opinion. In fact, J.K Simmons' character is coming at him at all angle: verbally, mentally and physically. He's taring this kid down in the first place and till the end he's giving him hell the entire time. This movie builds a level of intensity that I haven't seen a lot in movies (and I've seen a lot of movies); particularly through the tune and drumming but also through something bigger, it's so intense because it's so personal. We get Teller's character feelings as we've all wanted something so bad enough, so bad in our lives that we'll literally put ourselves through hell to get it (and if you don't. Don't worry. You will!). 


Overall Whiplash is an intense film in which I can't see one flaw. It's simple and efficient. It deals with an ambitious young character played by a really good actor and his teacher played by J.K Simmons who kills it! Somehow you're able to project yourself into this movie and now more I think about it, better it gets!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Agent Carter (Season 1) Premiere

In 1946, Peggy Carter is relegated to secretarial duties in the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). When Howard Stark is accused of treason, he secretly recruits Peggy to clear his name with the help of his butler, Edwin Jarvis. 


Agent Carter is boldly using a clip from Captain America to intro the show; the program picks up in 1946 with Peggy Carter working as a spy for a covert agency in which the male dominated hierarchy doesn't take her seriously. After subsequent Marvel one shot short film and a couple of adrenaline-injecting guest spots on Agents of SHIELD they're transforming a supporting character on Captain America into the star of an ABC series. Which is extremely opportunistic, but unsurprisingly it turns out to be a pretty smart bet from Marvel. 
The period setting gives the show a glamour quotient but even the idea of butt kicking female hero is intense by the unashamed sexism of the time. Captain America's presence is still very much felt on the mid season drama, mainly through various pod cast airing during the show, still Carter does everything Captain America  can do but backwards and in heels! Hayley Atwell fully embodies the character, developing her as she becomes a little more interesting, a little bit more relatable. I really hope the writer will deepen her more and more over the season. In fact, the grief that she is personally going through about Steve Rogers is prominent and may gets stronger as you watch the episode unfold. We connect with her character as we can understand the emotional, psychological cost of that grief and the vulnerability that comes with having such a high stress job where she's undercover and double cover-up in her life as she's going against the SSR in the first two episodes. Plus Jarvis, played by James d'Arcy, must become the comic star of the show.   


Moreover, this series does a great job at balancing the action and the fun. The first hour of the premiere sets the scene and establishes the players in a very clean way and in the second hour we really get to see more of the shows humor. It has to keep this witty tone to counteract the darker parts that may come. Finally, the combination of Hayley Atwell and post WWII setting makes the new Marvel branded series considerably fun. The two hours premiere waves plenty of questions and answers relatively few of them. It's an entertaining show which already feels like a proper series and if it keep that up a second season should definitely comes easy next year.