Posted on 6/24/11 05:03 PM
Everything about this idea captivated me. It projected the idea of an interesting premise made for fun viewing. Whilst I did find it pretty entertaining, there is a lot wrong with this film. It would seem that Limitless indeed has it's Limits.
Neil Burger tries to capture the story of writer Eddie (Bradley Cooper), whose life has become one mental block. He is struggling to start his new novel, keep his girlfriend and retain any fulfilment in his life. This all changes when he bumps into his ex wife's brother, who offers him a pill unlike any other. With nothing to lose, Eddie takes this pill which soon unlocks his brains potential making him capable of remembering things he thought he'd forgotten and giving him the motivation to accelerate his life into a higher gear. Obviously with so much potential, Eddie's career soon moves past novel writing into bigger and better things. However, this isn't all as it seems, with severe side effects to the pill and a high demand from dangerous people in the know of the drug, Eddie's path doesn't run as smooth as he hoped.
The problem with Limitless is that it tries far too hard to be something it's not. It tries to be sleek and stylised which although works to some degree, is used in a far too obvious and heavy way making the film seem quite tacky. Some of the fast camera movements looked cheap and actually made me feel quite nauseous. As a result, a lot of the sophistication within the script was lost.
The script is well constructed. I liked its structure and I liked the interaction between characters. It retains a lot of wit but doesn't try to be a comedy. I quite liked the way it deals with drug addiction. It's quite refreshing to see this about a fictitious drug as it makes the issue seem a bit more original. It's just a shame that this wasn't executed to its full potential. Burger's repertoire is sparse. Although I enjoyed The Illusionist and think his efforts on that were praise worthy, he clearly still has a lot more to learn in the world of filmmaking.
Most surprising to me was that I actually liked Bradley Cooper. I thought he did a pretty good job. We can clearly see his transformation not only through appearance but also through his character portrayal and it has opened my eyes to the potential he might have to be a more rounded actor. The supporting cast was pretty standard. Obviously Robert De Niro was faultless. It's nice to see him relaxing after his intense career and taking on some easier, more light-hearted roles. Abbie Cornish who played Lindy, Eddie's love interest is a tough one to decipher. I don't think it's fair to criticise her greatly because she wasn't bad in her role, but there's something about her I just didn't really like. I didn't warm to her character, I didn't sympathise with her anxiety towards Eddie and I didn't really care what happened to her. So I guess, Cornish probably is to blame in some way for this. Perhaps I would have liked her if it were another actress or perhaps we're just not supposed to care much about her, since it's all scripted around Eddie.
So whilst Limitless didn't give me Goosebumps or have me gagging for its DVD release, it was still fairly entertaining. I really liked the concept of it and it managed to keep me engaged throughout. So although it tries too hard and fails to even get close to its full potential, I'd recommend it for a watch - I just wouldn't urge people to rush out and spend money to see it.
Posted on 1/30/11 05:47 PM
This one has been on my To Do list for a while but it has taken me until now to finally sit down and watch it.
I can honestly say that this wasn't what I was expecting at all. I hadn't really read much into it, I just took my dad's recommendation and went with it. That aside it is a thoroughly entertaining film. The hour and a half flew by in a furious car chase, keeping me alert and engaged.
"It started as a joke, now the joke is on them..."
Joy Ride is essentially a road trip movie that goes wrong. Lewis is travelling back from college with the intention of picking up the girl he fancies (Venna) on the way back. On hearing his brother has been arrested again, he detours slightly in order to pick him up from the station. His brother, Fuller, buys a radio and the two brothers start conversing with other drivers on the airwaves. They lead a lonely trucker on with the false pretence that they are an attractive female lady and will have sex with them at their motel room.
This is where the thrill of our story begins. The trucker clearly cannot handle a joke and so engages in a fury of repent filled rage upon the brothers.
The main thing I liked about Joy Ride was the original, well written, well executed screenplay. JJ Abrams and Clay Tarver have done a fantastic job in creating a tense thriller free from predictability and cliche. Director John Dahl manages to keep the energy in the script alive with his on screen interpretation. The film is very engaging throughout containing few moments of dramatically lowered energy.
The dialogue between the brothers is written naturally with a lot of wit. You instantly like the partnership of the brothers and enjoy their exchange.
Of course, a lot of this likeability is down to the chemistry between the actors. Steve Zahn (Fuller) and Paul Walker (Lewis) have great on set chemistry that allows them to be believable as brothers. Their performances, whilst not Oscar worthy or anything outstanding, are effortlessly watchable. They play their part well and effectively manage to draw us into their world.
The bad guy in this scenario, 'Rusty Nail' has cleverly been portrayed on screen. He has a voice of calm coolness that immediately makes us uneasy. The appearance of this character is not revealed to us until our protagonists are allowed to see him, which allows us to be in the same position as the brothers. We find out everything at the same pace as they do, and our questions are not answered before theirs are. We are completely submerged into their world.
I really liked how this looked on screen. There was a lot of pathetic fallacy and a great use of shadows. In doing this the idea of mystery and the unknown was created effortlessly, quietly cheering on the unease lurking at the back of our minds.
Whilst I did immensely enjoy this film. It was a pleasant surprise and a very gripping horror/thriller, I cannot bring myself to rate it higher. I think all the cogs present with this production made for a very well oiled, smooth running machine. However that being so, I still felt the reason for this was because the ingredients were easy. It's easy to cook the pasta, but a great deal harder to cook the sauce. This is exactly what I feel about this film. It's like pasta. Something that is hard to mess up but the end product is still a delicious piece of enjoyment.
I think that this would be an epic fail if any component fell into the hands of an untalented film maker, however all the people present on production clearly know what they're doing and so were able to pull off the film with the right amount of energy and deliciousness.
A film that I would recommend. It is one of the best thrillers I have seen in a long time, with a satisfying ending. The ending is something that usually lets me down with films but I think this one was superb. The climax was tense and it didn't finish with you feeling cheated. A very entertaining watch for my Sunday Night.
Posted on 1/16/11 08:27 AM
Despite the general consensus, I really enjoyed this film. Love and Other Drugs tells the story of ladies man Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaall) as he competes in the pharmaceutical sales world. In order to gain the approval of a doctor, he shadows his work life which leads him to meet Maggie (Ann Hathaway) a 26year old Parkinson's disease sufferer. After a great deal of causality in their relationship, deeper feelings begin to blossom.
Other than seeing a semi naked Jake, what I enjoyed about this film was the tone of originality and the character depiction. The story was told in a refreshing way, showing a great deal of the power in Maggie's hands. Jamie's character was written well. He was set up to be the biggest ladies man around, he treated women with no respect and yet we still warm to him. The writers manage to create some form of likeability which means we let him get away with his behaviour. After his first meeting with Maggie, he is brought down a peg as she beats him round the head with her bag. Even though this action is completely deserved, we immediately feel protective of our protagonist. I really like the way this set up has been done because I think the likeability of our protagonist is one of the most important components.
Jake Gyllenhaall and Ann Hathaway are both effortlessly watchable. They don't do anything especially great within their roles, except their openness in displaying their naked bodies, but similarly they don't do anything wrong in their roles either. Without sounding superficial, it is important for these actors to be good looking with hot bodies. Jamie's character would not be believable if he wasn't good looking, and equally, we would not believe that Jamie would pursue Maggie had she not been good looking. Having great bodies is merely for the audiences comfort, it is a safe assumption that no one would regularly enjoy seeing two fat, wrinkly bodies on screen.
I liked the inclusion of Jamie's brother to provide a bit of comic relief. However, although for several parts this did make me laugh, I felt that he was included merely for the cheap laughs. He did not add anything substantial to the story and it felt like the writers were trying too hard to force this film into the romantic comedy genre, when our two leads already did this. His character was pretty much exactly the same as Zach Galifanakis's in The Hangover, and at times it was as if we were watching a direct rip off of such.
Another major downfall of this film was the horrendous choice of soundtrack. For the most part, it was bearable; however their inclusion of music during the two/three poignant scenes in the character's relationship was absolutely awful. Whoever chose this piece of music should be shot. These scenes were important in demonstrating a change in character and a progression in their relationship. The non-diegetic music that played was the worst thing I'd ever heard. It is the type of music that would have been perfect for a big sickly cheese-fest movie, however the film was not this and in playing this music, it completely destroyed the tone the rest of the film had. As a result of this, instead of the moments being heartfelt and touching, they became very laughable.
I really enjoyed this film as a whole. I found it entertaining, I liked the characters and I liked the development of their relationship. I still, however think there are major flaws in the script. Maggie was a stage one sufferer of Parkinson's disease, and even though this was an interesting inclusion, it felt as if it was only included as a mere obstacle in their relationship. Whereas I feel this should have been a big part of the story, it seemed as if it was heavily cast aside and pushed more into the background. It would have been nice to see more of Maggie's struggle with this disease, and more of Jamie's concern about it. It felt as if the writer's got carried away with the love story, and that they only remembered to push her disease as problem towards the end to have it as a third act turning point.
Yes the ending was predictable, but that wasn't so much an issue for me. Most romantic films have predictable endings, because otherwise they wouldn't fit into said genre. The public like to see a character like Jamie's change and like to see a happy ending for Maggie's lonely self. This formula works and although sometimes it gets tiring watching the same play out, it felt necessary for this. It wasn't so much for the development of Jamie, but more for the development of Maggie and her acceptance to someone else in her life.
So yes. There are countless problems with this film, but that does not divert away from the enjoyment as a whole. It is charming, entertaining and funny. It has a small sense of originality and although many would argue much of the nudity was unnecessary, I believe it was a bold decision that paid off to the filmmaker's advantage. It made the relationship between the two seem a lot more real and comfortable. As well as this, I now completely fancy the pants of Jake Gyllenhaal and have deemed him worthy of Sara loving.
Posted on 12/21/10 10:43 AM
Wow. What a very intelligent film. What I was expecting from 500 Days of Summer was a great, entertaining romantic comedy, however what I got was so much more. As it stresses at the start of the film, this is not your average romantic comedy, which in my opinion is so God damn refreshing to hear.
In short, the story follows our protagonist Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the 500 days that follow after meeting Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a girl who is amazing in every way but doesn't believe in relationships.
This film is incredibly charming. The script is extremely well written and delivers a very engaging premise full of wit and an amazing demonstration of character development. Director Marc Webb has definitely gained my attention. It's a shame his filmography is very sparse, but he demonstrates great promise to his future productions. His direction is incredibly unique and quirky. He manages to fully project the tone the script presents, keeping the stories uniqueness apparent.
The whole film is greatly complimented by the support of solid actors. Zooey Deschanel is amazing in her portrayal of the character Summer and manages to radiate the special qualities Tom sees in her. She is quirky but likeable. Joseph Gordon-Levitt steals the show though. He is definitely the right choice for this role and really demonstrates why we should respect him as an actor. The anguish and raw emotion that is poured into his character is so believable and incredibly touching. He creates a very empathic character, which I believe should greatly be credited towards the charm of the film.
The soundtrack to this is perfect. It suits the tone of the film incredibly well, allowing it to stand out as the quirky romantic comedy it is. The choice of artists that are used follow the mainstream Indie scene, which gives a gentle nod in the direction of Summer's character and how she differs from the pop-culture sheep.
This film is artistic in a subtle and intelligent way. Every component in this film has been produced just right. I was incredibly impressed with how good this film was and how great a job Marc Webb has done. I would highly recommend this film. For me it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster but one that I enjoyed every minute of. It was highly engaging and very heart-touching. This is understandably not everyone's cup of tea, however I think the majority of my friends on here will be able to appreciate the intelligence of it.
Posted on 12/15/10 05:17 PM
Cloverfield has never really been a film I'm that bothered about, I only watched it because I had to for an assignment. But that being said, I actually really really enjoyed it.
I think the plots pretty simple and most people probably know what it's about anyway. But basically New York is under attack by an alien monster and our protagonists are trying to escape. The format of this film is used through the means of the hand-held camera, very Blair Witch esc. This keeps us at a personal level with the characters and makes the action more engaging.
It is safe to say that there is not an awful lot to this plot. It simply seems like an echo of the 911 terrorist attacks, however that being said, I have to say it is still very engaging. Once the monster attacks, the action is constantly fast which makes you unable to switch off. The chaos is paralleled with the unreliable camera source, which simply allows the story to feel a lot more real.
I wasn't necessarily blown away by any of the actors but I didn't hate them either. Most of the lead characters are averagely hot, so I guess they help to hold your attention somewhat. Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and Beth (Odette Yutsman) are both pretty easy on the eyes.
The ending was naturally predictable but that doesn't really matter because this film isn't really about creating twists or leaving you surprised. The main point of the film is to simply demonstrate the monster in our society. How destructive things we depend on are, technology being the main point of reason.
So yeah, I would definitely give Cloverfield a watch. It's very short, (just over an hour) and its filled with mindless entertainment. I don't think I need to give anymore reasons than that. I've already stated that the actors aren't ugly, soooo I'll leave it with you.
Thanks for reading. LOVE YOU :)
Posted on 12/02/10 03:48 PM
Road to Perdition is quite a slow film, but director Sam Mendes packs it full of poetic beauty making it seem worth while.
In short, the story follows Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) who is a hit man to crime boss John Rooney. However after his son Michael witnesses one of his killings, he finds himself on the run trying to save his and his son's life, as well as still seeking revenge on those who have wronged him.
So as stated before, this film is a visually stunning piece of cinema. Mendes does a fantastic job with this film and manages to allow us into Michael's mindset, making us understand his fathers relationship with him. He creates a very visual dark tone to the film's entirety, which is a fantastic subtlety that keeps with the plot's content. I particularly loved his use of rain as a motif. It became very emblematic of the dark surroundings within the world of the film and was a great use of pathetic fallacy.
The story itself is an interesting one. Everything about the synopsis screams action, however Road to Perdition is far from that. Whereas running away and revenge are important aspects of this film, the main focus is the relationship between the father and son, and Michael's progression into becoming the echoes of what a good father should be. This allows us as the audience to get emotionally involved on a much deeper level. I think this level of emotion is an important one to have as otherwise the slow pace of the film would get the better of you.
The acting in this is superb from all parts. I don't think it's possible for Tom Hanks to give an unbelievable performance. He was cold and callous at the start but started to radiate some warmth through as the plot progresses. He really is a mark of some of the greatness modern day Hollywood can produce. Paul Newman was outstanding, as was Daniel Craig. I loved how he managed to generate distrust from the introduction of his character, Connor. There was something very subtle written across his face that beautifully sold us his mindset. However, it was the performance of Jude Law as Harlen Mcguire, which I was taken to more. His character is in very little compared to the other leading names, but I was so impressed with how creepy and disgustingly callous Jude Law could be. Anyone who has seen Law's performance in this can't deny that this is deserved praise.
Mendes's film would not have worked without a Thomas Newman score by its side. He is a simply fantastic composer and his score to this is amazing. In a short few seconds, Newman captures every feeling that is present on screen. He allows us to feel the sorrow in a gentle way that keeps the docile movement of the film in tact. (SLIGHT SPOLIER)His main theme to this film comes into play towards the end of the film when Mike takes revenge on Rooney and his gang. This whole scene is the mark of truly talented people. The complete use of non-diegtic sound and the absence of any other during the gunfire really regurgitates the emotion inside of you in an involuntary surge of awe. It makes you physically feel the atmosphere and become totally engaged in the scene.
I have given this the rating I have because although it was visually amazing, heart-wrenching and had one of the best scenes I have seen for a long time, it didn't generate as much enjoyment as I thought it would. It is definitely something I would watch again but not something I am in a hurry to run out and buy. I think the slowness of this is a benefiting factor of that, which although completely works with regards to this film, is not something I personally can fully engage and immerse myself into for 2hours.
Posted on 11/26/10 06:57 PM
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is one of those real gems you unexpectedley find. It is amazing to watch how incredibly fantastic Leonardo Dicaprio was during his late adolescence and before his prime. There can definitely be no doubt about whether he deserved the Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He truly is a demonstration of what a good actor is. Someone that starts off with amazing potential and just manages to grow and develop into the mature actor we know him as today.
The film depicts a working class family in the one-street town of Endora. The Grape's consist of two sisters Ellen and Amy, and two brothers Gilbert (Johnny Depp) and Autistic Arnie (Dicaprio). As well as trying to look after their morbidly obese mother Bonnie, they are also striving to live without a real father figure, lack of a decent wage and the highley dependable Arnie. Our hero Gilbert, being the 'man' of the house is the one that has to sacrifice any want for much of a social life or romance in order to work, whilst simultaneously look after an unpredictable Arnie. This becomes the norm until the freespirit Becky (Juliette Lewis) arrives in town for a few days allowing Gilbert to grasp onto a new direction of life.
Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom really manages to effectively portray the mental claustrophobia of Gilbert's life. He heavily depends on a range of close ups of the character's as the main way of emotion. Luckily the cast is made up of very talented people and so they are able to effortlessly produce Hallstrom's desired reactions with their facial expressions - allowing the subtelty of the film to shine through.
Johnny Depp is of course fabulous. With already having cemented himself into the film world as an established actor, his performance in this really highlights the reason why he's there. His character is believable and he doesn't try too hard to make us like him. It is the reserved method of acting that we see, which allows the creation of the empathy.
I wish I could say the same for Juliette Lewis, however I'm just not a fan. She seems to be the same in everything I've seen her in (which admittedly isn't a great deal) and that 'same' is a monosyllabic, bland, emotionless bore. I just didn't warm to her character at all and felt she offered nothing more to the role than what was written on the script. When she spoke, I felt she sometimes made it sound like her character also had mental difficulties. But aside from her, the rest of the cast were great.
With the location being so small, this film risks the danger of the setting becoming boring, however this definitely does not become the case. Hallstrom efficiently uses the scenery and turns the recurring props into motif's. In doing this, it means the character's are forced to dynamically encorporate them into their portrayal. Matches for example is one thing in particular that Gilbert often uses which also becomes an integral component that drives a lot of the plot's substance forward.
The music to this deserves a lot of credit for the endearing nature the film possesses. It's not a big score, or a bizarre, unexpected arrangement of notes. In keeping with the rest of the tone, it plays with a lot of subtelty as well as providing a softener effect to the harsh realities that the film is showing. It is a beautiful charmer that completely draws you into the world and I believe without it, the film would force you into more of a downward struggle.
Overall, I think this film is a greatly underplayed piece of cinema that highley deserves to be seen - it truly is a great watch. If you don't see this for the story or the film itself, I strongly urge you to see it for Dicaprio and Depp. I think their performances alone are engaging enough to keep your attention throughout.