There was a period in American filmmaking history where every movie looked great. All the shots were crisp and clear, the lighting was superb and every movie ,wether it was an idnie film or big blockbuster epic, looked high def. This was inbetween 2007-2011 and it was called The Deakins Period. Roger Deakins is probably the most famous and influential cinematographer of our generation. Every single one of his movies are superbly photographed. Ever since No Country for Old Men he has created the most amazing looking movies of all time. From The Reader to True Grit to Skyfall all the way to the tiny indies like Doubt, Revolutionary Road and A Serious Man. If you just look at the trailers for these films then you'll understand the breathtaking shots this man produces. You could tell that after Deakins perfected the art of photography in No Country, every movie after that tried their best to look as good as a Deakins film. Some succeeded while others only touched the magic of this man's work. Soon enough every movie looked good enough to eat, but none of them could beat the beauty of a Deakins film. Every single shot of his is like a carefully crafted painting with strokes of lighting and camera movement perfection. Any director priviliged enough to work with him gets to have the best looking movie of that year. And that is exactly what Prisoners is. Yes, Prisoners of course looks amazing. All the shots were like big frames of candy for your brain to soak in. I could never take my eyes off the screen because of just how amazing every frame looked. It was so lush and clean. Hell, even a doorknob could reach the heights of the sexiest models on the planet. The dark shades and yellow hues made everything feel dark and gloomy, being exactly what the film is. Prisoners is no fun family going film ride. Actually i suggest if you have kids then dont go at all because you will never want your little babies to be even a 10 foot radius away from you after experiencing this frightfully realistic motion picture.
Prisoners is about child abduction. Yes, that's what Prisoners is about. One of the worst subjects in society's history has a whole 2 and a half hour movie about it. It stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gylenhall, Terence Winter, Paul Dano and Viola Davis. Prisoners chronicles the abduction of two regular middle class suburban little girls and how both the families cope with the situation and deal with it in their own way while a dedicated detective tries to find the girls before anything gets out of hand (And yes, trust me, things get out of hand very quickly). Prisoners is (almost) perfectly made. The mood of the films is meek and dreary, giving out a dreadful sense of worry the entire way through. It has moments of incredible suspense especially during the opening before the girls are kidnapped, A foreshadowing eeriness crawls through the first ten minutes or so and you're just waiting in horrible anticipation for the dreaded kidnapping moment to occur. As a hardcore drama thriller, Prisoner's tone keeps that definition the entire way through. It never veers into action or dark comedy because this subject matter is nothing to take lightly. It's completely serious but not in a way where it's not entertaining. Its suspence keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for what will happen next. The film never misses a beat and although the film drags on a bit, it keeps you anticipating for what will happen next, making the 150 minute runining time more bearable. This is all thanks to director Denis Villenueve's incredible skill in precisee camera work and setting up the correct mood.
Hugh Jackman deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Lead Actor because he just kills it in this movie. He plays a tough, fighting father who will do anything , I mean ANYTHING to find his kid. Jackman just takes over the film with his commanding presence. Jackman's brutally tough persona along with his rough figure shows that he's scary person in general even if he is a loving father. Jackman has quite a few emotional scenes throughout and he pulls off every single one of them with perfection and deep emotion. What makes Jackman's chracter so great is that we hate the things he does to people so he can find his kids, but we understand where he's coming from and sympathize with him even during his most immoral scenes. Thus making us question our own moral values and what we'd do in sitaution like this. Would we follow Jackman's harsh torterous ways or would we follow Terrence Winter's character and do what's "right"instead of risking everything to find our kids. Terence Winter's performance EXCEPTIONAL. He doesn't have a big role i n this film and that bothers me. We get ALOT of Jackman's POV during the entire film but we hardly get to see what Winter's chracter is thinking or what he does. We dont get his side of the story and what he experiences. There isn't an even ground between the two characters thus making a very one sided story. The rest of the film is about Detective Loki (hell yeah, LOKI) played by Jake Gylenhall. Detective Loki is the one that is actually doing the investigating into the two missing girls. He's very dedicated to his job making him determined to find these two girls. His character is extremely realistic in a sense that he's not finding all the answers very quickly. He finds clues and leads but most of them don't mean anything forcing him to start all over again. He becomes frustrated and lost to where he almost starts a whole new investigation on a totally different suspect. But this also creates flaws in the story. Even I, as a viewer, knew who the kidnapper was and i fit the clues faster together than the characters in the story. That took me out of the film when i figured out that i was smarter than the detective himself which reminded me that this is a character not a real person that i should be invested in. Also, the film drags on in bits where it seems like they're just killing time so there can be more suspence. Yes, it builds itself up to an awesome climax but it seemed like it was deliberatley doing it and trying to force me to be in a suspenceful mood. If screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski had just written a more faster paced film with substantially better character development and a less predictable story, then Prisoners might have been a perfect film. This is not an easywatch for anyone. There's torture, suicide and just a a bad mood oeverall. But these things add to the movie making it s bit more sharp and entertaining. Prisoners represents the immorality inside all of us. No one in the world is a perfectly good person, becuase the devil lurks in us all. Great acting, sharp direction and a amazing cinematography, Prisoners is a substantially great film.
Recomendation: Not an easy watch for anyone, Prisoners is a must see for people with a tough heart but not necesarilly an intellegent mind.
With "Rush" Ron Howard tries to make a comeback after his past two glorious fuck ups ("The Dilemma" and "Angels and Demons") with a biopic (or biopics) of 2 rival Formula 1 race car drivers Nicki Lauda and James Hunt in their quest to win the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship. Does he make a comeback to his glory days like Apollo 13 or does he crash hard (Get it? Crash? Aw fuck it.) like "EdTV@? Well, he does a bit of both. The style of "Rush" is very.....unusual. It's competely abstract. Every shot is unusual and awkward and the mood/setting is kind drug-like. The lighting is extremely dark even during scenes that are bright as day. There is no straight focus point with the camera angles because they're placed so weirdly and over the top. A lot of the shots are sideways or turning around most of the time which were really distracting because I couldn't focus on anything during the entire film. The editing is extremely fast and the music is high roaring intensity, just like the engine of a car. The best way i can the way this movie feels is like you're on drugs. It seems like this is how people who are high feel like, completely crazy and fast paced yet confused. This is the best movie to watch when you're smoking some marijuana with friends, because it's darkly lit, abstractly shot and has a lot hardcore fast moving sequences with intense music. I know that Howard was trying to convey a 70's vibe but i didn't really buy into it. Some would argue that the film's style is like riding in a Formula 1 car, I'm saying that it feels like you're just been hit up with heroine for the first time.
I have to say that the acting in "Rush" is superb. Everyone does a great job, even Chris Hemsworth! Who knew that this man could be a teen hearth throb and a serious dramatic actor! Although his character James Hunt, is more fun and lighthearted, he does have a few scenes where the muscles come out and the anger is released creating for some intense scenes. Olivia Wilde is HOT HOT HOT as Hunt's wife. That's all i have to say about her. She's good but she doesn't do a lot in the film so there isn't much to say. But what i can say is that Mr.Daniel Bruhl completely steals the shaw as Nicki Lauda. Nicki Lauda is a very serious character, he plays by the rules and wont risk anything because he's a safe responsible guy. Bruhl's performance of him completely stands out because it's so convincing. He has a serious tone along with a compulsively entertaining asshole like persona. Bruhl has some extremely emotional scenes also especially after a certain incident which leaves him in the hospital for a few weeks. Those were some grueling scenes and the way Bruhl almost conveys a tortured man during those scenes was fantastic. I completely felt sorry for Bruhl's chracter and his acting chops were off the charts. All the character and events in Rush really happened making the scenes in the hospital all the more jarring. He conveyed emotions of sadness, guilt and anger into those couple of scenes creating a fantastically gruesome atmosphere. Bruhl was probably the best part of the entire movie.
I didn't connect to BOTH of the characters in "Rush" and that was one major problem for me. I liked Lauda more and connected to him more than Hunt. Lauda was more likable and sincere while Hunt was a cocky asshole. Granted, they both were assholes in their own way but Lauda was less of an asshole and that's what I liked about him. The film does a good job of not taking side and showing the flaws of both the people. But Lauda is obviously a better man morally and mindfully than Hunt, which made me like him more. But that's up to different people's interpretations. Some might like Hunt more for his partying style and intense swag and other might like Lauda more for his responsible attitude and smart thinking. "Rush" basically says that you can lead your life in two different ways. You can go out, party and live on the edge of life (Hunt) or you can be smart, stay responsible and live life appreciating every moment slowly and carefully (Lauda). The film shows how both the sides are good and bad in their own ways making me ponder which one I'd actually want to live. It's not the first time film has explored these themes but it tells it through a true story that's actually interesting making it a lot more effective. "Rush" still has character development problems though and the direction is all over the place as i said before. If it had jut slowed down a bit and hadn't concentrated so much on the style then this might've reached the heights of his previous works. This isn't Howard's best, but it isn't his worst either.
Recommendation: If you wanna watch a good film that you can smoke pot too then this is your treat, if not, then this isn't something you have to "Rush" out to see. (See, what I did there? Yeah, I'm stupid.)
Before you go into "Saving Mr.Banks", you should know that this is no Walt Disney biopic. Nor is it a movie about one part of Disney's life such as "Lincoln" was about one part of Abraham Lincoln's life. No no, you see, Saving Mr.Banks is about the childhood of P.L.Travers and how it influenced her to make"Mary Poppins" and why she was resilient to making a feature film by Disney. When a film studio decided to make a movie about the making of a movie from that film studio itself, then you know there has to be some problems with bias and cliche moves. So, yeah there are alot of cliche and bias moves in this movie and that's where "Banks" messes up. But before I state my issues, let me state the positives.
The acting. Outstanding, truly outstanding. Emma Thompson completely takes over her role as P.L. Travers. She transforms into a whole new person with her demanding demeanor along with a fantastically harsh attitude. She balances Traver's delicate, emotional side with a strong, serious, high top stature. At first Taver's comes off as funny and lost with her outrageous requests and criticisms of everything around her. She hates everything and everyone making us laugh at her sort of cute, oldy attitude. But while the story moves on we begin to find out why exactly she is who she is making everything less comical and more serious. We pick out her problems in the past and put together the reasons to her present (the movie's based in the 60's so I'm talking about back then when i mean the "present") outlook on life soon understanding where she comes from and why she is who she is. The film is basically two stories that intertwine with each other. We see Traver's childhood relationship with her dad (Colin Farrell) and her current relationship with Walt (Tom Hanks) and how May Poppins is the center of it all. I was attached to Traver's character and felt for her emotionally because of everything we find out about her. It's a transition from being a grumpy bitch to a great woman that's investing and entertaining. Tom Hanks as Walt Disney was a great treat. First of all, his mustache was freaking amazing, and so was his acting. He's not in alot of scenes, but he kills it in the few he appears. I wasn't totally convinced that Tom Hanks was Walt Disney though. Most of the time it seemed I was just watching Tom Hanks by P.L. Travers, not Walt Disney. He didn't completely sell me but I did enjoy the way he portrayed Mr.Disney in his own way.
Colin Farrell gives a powerhouse performance as Traver's drunken dad also. He brings a lost, sorrowful naiveness that basically takes over his character. He is a jerk dad at points but he's also loving and caring. I hated him but i felt sorry for him at the same time which sort of made me play tug of war with my emotions. The music also played with my heartstrings too. There is some beautiful renditions of Mary Poppin's songs that play throughout the film which set the mood perfectly. It almost was a ploy at points so that wen there was a supposed emotional scene then the score made it emotional. It's a Spielberg trick, but i have to say, i did fall for it at points.
Sadly though, in all it's charm and emotional charisma, Saving Mr. Banks has it's fair share of problems and missteps. There are way too many cheesy moments with obvious sentimental traps which force you to feel emotional. Plus the extremely dark scenes mixed in with the sappy, joyful comedic scenes don't work at all with contrast or comparison. It felt like two completely different films that had tiny comparable things. I felt that the movie was trying too hard at points to be Oscar worthy fantastic that it just lost itself in some ego that was never there to begin with. I was bored at many moments also because of the lack of excitement or charisma. Even though I fell for some of the sentimental sappy scenes of joy I felt manipulated in a way and some time after i finished the film i realized that those scenes weren't even that tear jerking to begin with. John Lee Hancock is the master that making sappy movies less seemingly sappy e.g. "The Blind Side", but he didn't get me here.
Recommendation: For Mary Poppins lovers and Disney lovers this will be a treat but if you didn't fall for say "The Blind Side" or "Invictus" then this is not the Disney ride you want to get on.
I was so excited for "Mud" when i first heard of it. I loves Jeff Nichol's previous work "Take Shelter" starring Michael Shannon. It was so daring and different and it influenced me to check out more indie films. "Take Shelter" became one of my favorite films of all time and so i was anxious to see if I was gonna add another one to my list. But, NO, "Mud" didn't reach that bar for me. "Mud" is essentially a coming of age story based in the South about 2 kids named Ellis and Neckbone (what the hell?) that find a fugitive and decide to help him find his true love while trying to help him escape the police and fight off a gang that's trying to kill him. HERE'S ONE BIG PROBLEM RIGHT HERE. The film has so many characters and plot lines that it gets muddles up in everything. Not only does Ellis (Tye Sheridan) decides to help Mud (played by Matthew MccCougnahey) but he also has to face the problems of his parents dissolving relationship and trying to find true love himself in a true relationship. The film has too many things going on that it's pacing and structure is terrible. Plus the cheesy themes of true love kept smacking me right in the face in the most obvious manner.
Speaking of cheesy, alot of elements of the movie are very cheesy. From Mud's Forrest Gump like-innocent- yet-smart speeches to the name of the gang's leader which is King. KING IS HIS NAME. They could've come up with a little bit more original name right? RIGHT? The ending is predictable and the metaphors about birds and love were obvious and uninspiring. I didn't get a lot out of the film except for the relentless messages of lost love and family. The film drags on at points too. It gets very slow at points where it expected me to be invested in but the problem was i didn't care for most of the characters because I had already seen them before. There were cliche moments and cliche characters especially Mud.
Except for the script, everything else about "Mud" is top notch. From the eloquent direction to the beautiful cinematography, the film's execution was great. Nichol's kept the Southern atmosphere with a sweaty, icky, early summer morning mood along with perfect locations and set pieces. Not once did the film leave its Southern feel even during the intense action or love scenes. Tye Sheridan did some fantastic acting alongside Matthew McCoughnahey and Reese Witherspoon. This young up and coming actor completely tore every scene he was in and gave a demanding presence. His emotional broken physique was convincing and mesmerizing. This boy truly seemed lost and in need of guidance. MM pulled off his character perfectly but i guess i should have seen that coming. MM was made to play this character and his southern accent and skinny body completely made me forget it was once the faggot from "Surfer, Dude". Witherspoon was also perfectly cast because she was fantastic as this disgusting, care free beauty. I loved her scenes and her emotional presence was strong. Paul Sparks and Michael Shannon both from "Boardwalk Empire" were great to see also. Everyone in the movie was great as their characters, even if who they were playing weren't that interesting. The cinematography was the best part of the whole movie. All the landscape shots looked amazing and the dark color pallet was a feast for the eyes. I thought every angle and shade was perfect to create a dark yet enlightened mood.
Overall, "Mud" offers plenty of great acting moments and serene direction to keep the Southern charm enjoyable and haunting. But the script falls flat due to too much ideas and people trying to pushed into one cinematic experience.
Recommendation: Yes, this has enough acting ability and beautiful scenery to keep you invested, but don't expect a Southern drama that will sweep you off your feet.