Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Focus

In the midst of veteran con man Nicky's latest scheme, a woman from his past - now an accomplished femme fatale - shows up and throws his plans for a loop.


Focus stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Surprisingly I pretty much enjoyed this movie, Will Smith did not impress me in his last movies, at least his children aren't in this one. It's actually one of his best movie in recent years. This film is entirely based on the stars chemistry and charisma; it has an excellent cinematography and lightning. I loved the look of it. Plus, it doesn't have a typical structure which feels original and unique in that way. In fact, you think the movie is going in one way but twists and turns happen because obviously it's a conman movie so it moves in all kind of ways and things are happening back and forth; and all of this because of the structure which is very very different than the usual 3 acts type of movie. However, the emotional core of the film is broken from time to time and it's a little bit hard to grasp as you don't know what the characters are thinking and how they'll react, but for the most part it's a plus. We're thrown in the middle of this world of conning and conmen which is pretty interesting. The hopes are high. Focus feels like a twisty and strange Ocean 11 with a little bit of drama in it and little bit less fun and silly part. Finally, for the first half of the movie it might have been similar to Ocean 11 and then in the second act it feels more as a sequel to the first half, dealing with Smith and Robbie relationship. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are both excellent. Smith is charismatic and Margot Robbie isn't just a pretty face, she's a pretty who can act, as she already proved in The Wolf of Wall Street


Overall both of the main characters work well together. The first half of the movie is good, I loved how immersive this movie is into the con world, but the second half try to be so clever that it overreaches and slows down a bit.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Blackhat

A furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Honk-Kong to Jakarta.


Blackhat is directed by Michael Mann and stars Chris Hemsworth. I've never been a huge fan of Mann's work such as Heat, The Insider or Collateral; but in my opinion he has the ability to film city night life as its best, making it looks edgy and greedy. In the film you can confused shaky cam with hand-held camera, which is mainly what Mann is using. There are beautiful shots, great action sequences and good shout outs: an usual good imagery. However, the tone is very inconsistent and the movie drags and drags from time to time. The script is the one to blame for the poor core of this film. It's not entirely due to Chris Hemsworth not fitting in at all as a super computer hacker. He's a really likable and talented actor, he has a great screen presence but I do not buy him as a super nerd genius, as Thor fine, as a race car driver also fine but not as a geek. It wouldn't even fit with his routine a the gym. We need more hackers who looks like Chris Hemsworth though; it's 2015, we need our hacker looking pretty! In fact, it's due to the dialogue, the writing of the characters and the fact that the movie is more and more unrealistic as it goes along, to the point where you don't really care anymore and start questioning where the movie is really going. No one stands out or make something special. Even the romance is not realistic at all. Those facts added to the long and even more boring series about computer hacking; I completely master that some expert really praised the film for getting some small details correct but personally I did not understand a single word they said. Blackhat certainly is an inconsistent film although Michael Mann does really understand gun fight, action sequences and they're really well done. The audio feels realistic, not Hollywood made action movie.Plus, his signature cinematography works well with those scenes but then all of a sudden there are these cgi sequences which don't with the more hand-held camera on purpose cinematography. Finally, you'll like this movie for one of those two reasons: (1) Michael Mann directs it and you love everything he does, (2) Chris Hemsworth is in it and you want to like it because of him. It doesn't make the movie any better nonetheless. 


Overall Blackhat is a really long and boring movie that comes to life with his action sequences. With a script filled with so many stupid dialogues, lifeless and uninteresting characters, and even more cliché villains.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Insurgent

Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side.


Insurgent is the sequel to Divergent which came out last year. It stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Theo James and Kate Winslet. As for Divergent, I did not hate that movie; it was pretty good actually. This time I'm impressed with Shailene Woodley's work and the fact that the movie seems to be better than most YA book to film adaptation that I've been experienced lately. Going to this movie I was pretty hopeful and excited. I love Shailene Woodley as an actress, Naomi Watts is also in the film: she's great and obviously Kate Winslet is a fantastic actress. Plus, I was really intrigued by the trailer in which we could glimpse a darker part. Insurgent is more intense than the original. In fact, there's more action and it's all filmed very well. The director did a really good job at filming the action scenes, with swift moving shots and lots of long takes, that really made me happy. Though towards the end of the film some scenes were almost to perfectly choreographed that it looks fake and it's difficult to believe that you're watching a tangible thing that is happening. On the one hand, Jeanine is newly empowered by new information, new equipment and new techniques. She's an even nasty shade of ugly than she was in the first film and she's on a mission more than ever to find that very special divergent and to rule the world. Kate Winslet is amazing... but in movies she's done before. In that one she's not bad but there's anything for her to do, she wonders around, take tests on people and then takes notes in a very dull and uncaring manner. Her presence as an antagonist is not that meaningful. 



On the other hand, Tris is still trying to figure out who she is and how she can defines herself apart from her external situation and what others may say in order to influence her decisions. She's determined to accomplish something and regardless of what everyone else says. Tris finds it in herself to be committed to her own integrity. Shailene Woodley is once again amazing as Tris, you can really feel the deep pain of her character, she truly did an incredible job portraying that. One of the best scene is when she's forced to tell the truth about various things she's ashamed of and she really sold it! So much depth and so much background was given to her character, her regret, the thing she feels ashamed of, that all other characters feel wooden and lifeless. However, something I've realised with book to film adaptation whether it's Divergent, Twilight, The Mortal Instrument, Hunger Games or even 50 Shades of Grey; all of those come with a very strong and opinionated fan base. Some of my friends who read the books told me that there are a lot of things happening in the movie that are not in the book which can be viewed as a little chaotic but don't worry if you're already  a fan of the book you're going to enjoy the film as you'll be already pumped for it. You may be a little confused by those surprised twists and turns; but keep in mind that it is an adaptation and that not everything will be like the book for the sake of the big screen. 


Overall the best part of Insurgent is Shailene Woodley, her character and the emotion she gives to her, how good her performance is and the fact that the director did a really great job at filming the action scenes.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Big Eyes

A drama about the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950's, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960's. 


Big Eyes is directed by Tim Burton and stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. This film isn't some fantasy movie with Johnny Depp and faces painted in white. It actually is an amazingly directed and restrained movie. There are some fantasy aspect but it's so limited: no crazy Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter and no crazy make up. Tim Burton has gone straight for it this time! Amy Adams is absolutely luminous in this role, she is strong, beautiful and she brings this feminine urgency to her character that really just make you want to punch Christoph Waltz in the face. In fact, this is a true story and she really is magnificent, dealing with the way she finds her inspiration, the back and forth between her and her husband; but eventually it gets deeper and darker to a point where you ask if this man could get any worse?! I love Christoph Waltz, he's a great actor and he's good as Walter Keane. However sometimes he gets a little bit over the top to the point where he becomes almost cartoony; even a little larger than life, bigger than he should be from time to time.  


Overall Big Eyes is a lot of fun. I loved seeing Tim Burton explored a more real aspect of filmmaking. Amy Adams was great but the film dragged a bit, this fact, plus Christoph Waltz larger than life character made the film look quiet superficial.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Run All Night

Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his son.

 

Run all Night stars Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris and is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra who brought us Unknown and Non-Stop. It's an exciting and funny movie to watch when you have nothing else to do and you're bored. It is quiet entertaining for what it is. People should know that by now: don't mess with Liam Neeson's family! When I first saw the trailer I was expecting yet another "not-so-good" film starring Liam Neeson such as Walk Among the Tombstones; but this film is definitely a good action movie with some drama thriller touches here and there. At first, Liam Neeson is just a beaten drunk broken man and throughout the film you really start to care about this man who is hunted by some of the things he's done in his past; as well as his son and Ed Harris characters. You really feel like they have a past, it feels like things have happened to them before; which shows a very well built story. Those are the best characters: when you're able to envision character's background before the movie start, they exist beyond the movie. In fact, this movie takes place in a city in one night, which is a good thing for the action plot because everyone is constantly moving. However, on the other hand it makes things a little hard to keep up with this bunch of informations: cops, drug dealers, mob bosses, Liam Neeson and his son, his son's family and their relationship with him, his relationship with Ed Harris and last but not least an assassin is thrown in the middle of everything. This cool hitman stars Common and it would be great to know more about his story rather than being thrown out there with his futuristic Google glasses (which were super cool by the way). Finally, there's one cameo scene that I won't spoil; it seems a little bit forced and completely irrelevant to the main plot of the movie. It doesn't fit in at all, it's like a completely different movie.


Overall Run All Night is not as good as the first Taken movie but it ads a little more heart, substance and more depth though. It's very fun and suspenseful thriller, it has good characters and good action sequences.

The Lazarus Effect

A group of medical students discover a way to bring dead patients back to life. 




The Lazarus Effect stars Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, Sarah Polger and is directed by David Gelb. This is another horror movie and we've seen those couple of jump scares before; but it does have some very creepy imagery and when this start happening it's not that bad. The film deals with a theory debating whether when you die some chemical elements in your brain make you see the white light at the end of the tunnel or you actually go to heaven and this stage is just some kind of process to enter it. In fact, it has you wondering is she possessed or is she just unlocking her brain and that's what triggers this weird version of herself? However, it's not giving you enough information to let you decide what's actually going on. Ultimately The Lazarus Effect feels like a horror version of Lucy but messier this time with some horror things happening in order to to keep the audience entertained for what it is. Sometimes it tries to be smart but gives you conflicting information and then you're lost, it doesn't quiet know where to go. Finally, actors are functional, especially Evan Peters who has some pretty good lines and clearly is the comic relief in the movie. 


Overall The Lazarus Effect is more or less what you expect it to be, an horror movie with some jump scares as usual but with some pretty cool and relevant imagery. It's an effective but very messy movie.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Selma

A chronicle of Martin Luther King's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.



Selma stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King in the first official theatrically released biopic about the legendary leader. The question is how can this film be the first one? This is sad to have waited for so long and so this film is very welcome. It is a great movie. Firstly, I have to admit that I was a little worried of how sentimental or too romanticised those kind of movie can be, and that, because Biopics have to be inspirational. However here, Selma is not cheesy or melodramatic at all. It takes a very factual look at things that happened on this specific period of his life and more importantly MLK doesn't look God-like, flawless or perfect. The movie doesn't loose that Human focused centre. It doesn't shy away from some of the flaws of the real man that are well known. I found that really interesting because he was first and foremost a human being just like any of us. Obviously he is  this iconic leader who march in order to make his point relevant for other people to understand but deep behind, he is just a regular man, with doubts. This is important to show especially when the legends are too big, so the people can identify with the character, he's just like you and me. David Oyelowo is amazing in this film, he really captured what MLK fight for and of all the speeches I've studied he embodies the man spirit perfectly. However, there is no other really interesting character beside MLK which is sad because there were a lot of other people around him who were equally involved with the movement; but Oyelowo as MLK is so damn good that all other characters suffered because of that. Finally, the "normal" scenes when he's home with his wife and children are equally as powerful as the speech scenes. Throughout the whole movie there is this political chest game happening between the government and MLK Civil Right Movement as they're not just marching, actual political issues were involved. Some scenes are hard to watch as that is what happened 50 years ago in Selma, Alabama. That was a really dark time in Human History.


Overall Selma is a very factual and straight forward movie, filled with excellent performances and a very good directing/editing. A powerful movie.