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August 2012
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Say Anything...
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John Cusack, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jennifer Lawrence
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Roger Ebert
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Movie Ratings and Reviews

Her (2013)

This film is science fiction done right. Spike Jonze's film captures all of the complications and complexities of love in a technologically preoccupied world, while also giving the audience a very emotionally captivating story. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is very touching.

American Hustle

I'm a huge fan of David O. Russell's directing style, so I was going into the cinema with high hopes. The cast was remarkable; notably, Bale and Lawrence's scenes were my favourite. It was very comedic and fun to watch, but there were several instances when I felt the plot was dragged out and a bit thin. Don't know if I'd give it best picture, but it was a fun throwback to the 70s and had quite the soundtrack, especially with Mayssa Karaa's White Rabbit.

Prisoners (2013)

This was my favourite film of 2013. It was tense, raw, and thought-provoking. A terrifying look at child abduction and a harsh examination of humanity. And let's not forget that ending. Villeneuve is a director I'll keep looking out for.

The Spectacular Now

Miles Teller does a fantastic job in the role of Sutter Keely, and the movie feels consistently genuine and poignant. One of the better coming of age stories of recent years.

Don Jon
Don Jon (2013)

An interesting take on the effects of media on the expectations and understanding of relationships. It was uncomfortable to watch at times, but was a fresher comedy than what I had expected.

Carrie (2013)

Loved Chloe Moretz in the title role, but this remake was not very compelling.

End of Watch
End of Watch (2012)

This film was one of the best of 2012, for sure. I cannot believe it took me this long to watch it. At first I wasn't too fond of the handheld style of filming, but I thought that its use in this film made its subject matter that more raw, capturing the reality of the dangers that these police officers face daily. Gyllenhaal and Pena have excellent chemistry as partners, and their brotherly bond is portrayed with outstanding finesse and ease. The film is absolutely captivating and thrilling, with a gripping ending.

The Way Way Back

A charming and delightful coming-of-age tale. This film tracks a teenage boy named Duncan's journey towards openness and self-discovery, thanks to one fun filled summer at a water park. Liam James' performance of Duncan is wonderful, as his depiction of a teen in transition from child to adult--with his insecurities and shyness--was so realistic, that it took me back to when I felt the same way in high school. The script was filled with hilarity and delight, but with the right amount of drama. Allison Janney's comedic presence is scene-stealing, too. The final scene of the film was extremely effective and touching. My only complaint is that I wish it had been a bit longer: I was having too much fun going way back.

The Wolverine

I was not really blown away, but I definitely was not bored. What stood out the most in this film was the action sequences (especially the fight on top of the bullet train), but I also found the discussion of mortality in the film to be quite thought provoking. The movie depicts how far one is willing to go to extend his life beyond its normal bounds, and whether an eventual, honourable death is a requirement for a meaningful life. This film gave Wolverine a bit more depth, and was overall worth the watch.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel (2013)

I was unimpressed. Firstly, although Cavill looks the part of Superman, his acting was pretty stiff and emotionless. It was hard for me to connect to, or care for his character. I found the action sequences to be, at first, breathtaking--then it just became excessive. I wish that the film had a bit more heart.

Trance (2013)

This film was a thrill ride. I was kept on my toes throughout the movie, and although some aspects of it were predictable, the final act still proved to be complex and clever. James McAvoy is at his best, and Rosario Dawson is fantastic.

This Is the End

I was pretty much laughing from the start. This film had a fantastic premise, and all of the actors delivered.

Con Air
Con Air (1997)

I've been working through John Cusack's filmography, and unexpectedly came across Con Air on AMC. These types of action movies are not generally my "thing," but boy was I blown away by this film. The performances in this film are some of the best I've ever seen. John Malkovich as Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom was chilling, and I am embarassed to say that I was actually petrified by this guy. Steve Buscemi also gave a remarkably creepy performance, given his small amount of screen time. The action sequences were very enjoyable, and there was effective humour in the movie as well. However, my only complaint was the ending. Not only did it contain one of the most cheesy uses of music in an emotional scene, Garland Greene's fate was very unsettling for me, and I did not like its placement in the film. But overall, this action flick had me on the edge of my seat.

Now You See Me

I entered the theatre for this film wondering if Now You See Me's execution would live up to its intriguing premise. Overall, I thought it delivered. I was actually kept entertained throughout the film, and I was stunned by the twist ending. The performances were alright, with nothing too spectacular from the main four; however, I always find Ruffalo's presence extremely endearing, which continued in this film. It wasn't as good as I had expected it to be, but I was able to let myself set aside my disbelief and enjoy it.

The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann's adaptation contains several hits and misses. The film's cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, conveying the glamour and excess of the 1920s better than any other adaptation of the novel. The movie also contains excellent performances, especially by DiCaprio and Mulligan. I particularly enjoyed how easily DiCaprio could shift so easily and subtly from portraying Gatsby's easy and cool facade, to revealing his inner unhinged anger. However, I had a problem connecting emotionally to the film. I felt that the characters weren't given enough depth for me to care about and sympathize with them, and that Luhrmann did not place enough emphasis on the dangers of living such a glamorous lifestyle. I was also disappointed that the scene with the Owl Eyed Man at Gatsby's funeral was removed. He was the only character, other than Nick, to see past Gatsby's facade and find a real person, and who showed sympathy for Gatsby, as none of his so-called friends came to his funeral, although they attended his parties by the masses. Overall, the film does capture the novel better than earlier attempts, but still falls short in some respects.

Silver Linings Playbook

"I do this! Time after time after time! I do all this shit for other people! And then I wake up and I'm empty! I have nothing!" First off, I have to say that the performances in this film were incredible. I haven't been much of a fan of Bradley Cooper in the past, but he owned the role of Pat. He portrayed Pat's emotional turbulence in a genuine manner that was true to the realities of mental illness. Jennifer Lawrence was astounding. She has such a great, forward presence that demands attention, but also reveals a vulnerability to Tiffany. I read the novel in two days before I saw the film, and I felt that the film definitely did the book justice. I thought that the screenplay was excellently written with great comedic timing. Overall, I thought it was a very touching film that was very true to life's whirlwind of joys, despairs, and finding strength to persevere through hope.

Les MisÚrables

In my own opinion, the best film of the year. I know there has been a lot of mixed feelings over the live singing, but I really appreciated it. It made the performances much more raw and captivating. Hugh Jackman absolutely carried this film and did an excellent job doing so. I don't think I've ever been moved to tears in a theatre in such a way that I was while Les MisÚrables. Anne Hathaway's Fantine was so powerful, conveying the role of a completely impoverished, shamed, and shattered woman with such truth. The final scene on its own is enough of a reason why this film deserves such great praise.

50/50 (2011)

After I saw this film, I developed a strong interest in Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor. His performance is so moving and real. I think that the film is excellent in terms of balancing both the dramatic and comedic, and I really enjoyed the dynamic between Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, and Seth Rogen.

Love Actually

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. I usually do not find many romantic comedies compelling, but there are some solid performances here. With the multiple love stories playing out at the same time, it got a bit confusing, although a few of them really stood out to me. Colin Firth gave a very charming performance, and I was mostly drawn to his storyline. I found Jamie's proposal to Aurelia in Portugal to be one of the most touching scenes in the film. I was also very moved by Emma Thompson's performance as Karen, a woman who realizes that her marriage is falling apart. However, I was disappointed to find that Sarah and Karl's interrupted romance did not have a satisfying resolution. Nevertheless, Love Actually is a touching holiday film that I will be most likely adding to my annual holiday movie list.

Richard III
Richard III (1995)

This film raises the bar for Shakespearean adaptations. Ian McKellen's stellar performance captures the fascinating complexity of Richard as a villain, as he is terrifying in his subtle facial expressions and intonations, and his playful skips as he succeeds in his plots add a nice touch to demonstrate his complete lack of regard towards the bloodshed and terror he inflicts. I am really glad that the film stayed true to the play with regards to Richard's communication with the audience. It was interesting to feel like a co-conspirator with Richard, and I feel that this aspect was still effective on screen. Loncraine's direction was fabulous, as several shots will remain with me forever, especially the chilling image of Lady Anne's dead corpse while a spider crawls into her mouth. This movie is a great, well-acted thrill ride.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi (2012)

An undoubtedly striking film. I have a soft spot for this novel, as I read it when I was a freshman just entering high school. I remember thinking to myself that this book would make a remarkable film, and Ang Lee has done it. The cinematography was stunning, especially during the scenes in which Pi was out at sea during the night and on the island. The emotion was palpable, with the question of spirituality being ignited within me all over again. My only regret was not seeing it in 3D.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This book evoked so many emotions within me when I read it, and I can say that the film did the same. It captures not only the essence of teenage struggle, but more importantly, the vitality and uplift that can result from getting through it. A very poignant and touching film, with scene-stealers Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman getting all the laughs and tears.

Looper (2012)

I've been waiting to see this film for so long, and it definitely delivered. The setting and cinematography were a real stand out for me, along with heart-pounding action and a great ensemble cast. The film also raises a lot of important questions while exploring a futuristic use of time travel.

The Grifters
The Grifters (1990)

One of the greatest films I've ever seen. The main cast's performances were exquisite, with Houston in particular. The final scene was unforgettable. Along with its haunting score and great suspense, this movie is definitely a must-see.

Premium Rush
Premium Rush (2012)

A fast-paced, fun, and impressive film that takes the viewer into a speedy adventure. The stunts, coupled with great leads in Gordon-Levitt and Shannon, left me with, quite simply, a rush.

The Dark Knight Rises

With captivating performances by Christian Bale and Tom Hardy, this film exceeded my every expectation. The movie is truly electrifying from its scores to its action, and concludes the trilogy with absolute resonance.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield's take on Peter Parker absolutely blew me away. This adaptation was raw, enticing, and quirky, all of the things that I hoped that it would be.