Matthew McDonald's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Le passé (The Past)

10/10. A highly original take on what would normally have been a very conventional tale. Asghar Farhadi's sensitive direction and script compliments the incredible cast assembled for the film, led by Berenice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa, and Un Prophet's Tahar Rahim. The Past is one of the most emotionally raw film-going experiences of 2013, and is a lock for a Best Foreign Film nomination. Easily one of the best and most powerful films I've seen all year. Farhadi deserves every bit of praise he's received since A Separation.

Now You See Me

1.5/10. I wanted to like this so badly, but I can't in any good conscience recommend this to anybody. The writers and director of this film should be ashamed of themselves for creating the most wooden, predictable, and poorly written film I've seen all year. This is the only movie I've ever seen that makes a talented all-star cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine, downright embarrassing to watch. Avoid this like the plague.

Disconnect
Disconnect(2013)

A movie that has no problem condemning technology, but not the awful people using the technology to do horrible things.

I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba)

On a technical level, I Am Cuba is easily one of the greatest films ever made. The film and the camera are more energetic than most movies I've ever seen, rivalling the camera work of the great Max Ophuls. Though I Am Cuba can be very heavy-handed throughout, this is nonetheless an amazing film that anybody interested in the craft should see at least once. The acting is consistently incredible, the cinematography is breathtaking, and the sheer filmmaking ability on display here is something that needs to be seen to be believed. The highlights are the incredible opening roof-top sequence, and the stories of the poor sugar cane farmer and the young Cuban revolutionaries. See this film immediately if you're interested. 9.5/10

Rififi (Du Rififi Chez les Hommes)

It's not very often that I feel compelled to write a review for a film immediately after seeing it for the first time, so that really speaks for how powerful and effective Rififi really is. After nearly 60 years, Rififi doesn't feel like it's aged a day (other than the fact that security systems are a great deal more complicated now). The cast here is perfect, led by the incredibly charismatic (and Humphrey Bogart-esque in some way) Jean Servais. The was my first exposure to the works of Jules Dassin (Best Director winner at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival), and this film really shows just how incredible a director he was. The actual heist scene that the film is centered around might be the most tense scene ever captured on film. I found myself literally holding my breath at times. The use of sound (or lack thereof) during that scene was particularly effective, adding a great deal to the atmosphere and lets the audience know that one wrong move could spell the end for these four men. Rififi is a film that I feel every fan of films should see at some point during their lives. It's an excruciatingly tense, perfectly paced crime film, and one I'll be revisiting over and over for the rest of my life. 9.5/10

The Dark Knight Rises
½

The Dark Knight Rises is easily the clunkiest film of Nolan's Batman trilogy. It features some great performances from Anne Hathaway, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as well as a truly incredible soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. The problem with TDKR is that it features far too many undeveloped characters (Miranda Tate, Stryver, Daggett, Jen, etc.), incredibly poor audio mixing, an awfully clumsy first hour, as well as too many "convenient" elements written into the sub-par script. The Dark Knight would be a fitting inclusion into Nolan's Batman series, but it definitely isn't fit to be the end to this epic saga. TDKR is a very fun and enjoyable film, but by no means does it match the greatness set by Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. 8/10.

On the Road
On the Road(2012)
½

6/10. On the Road is a joyless, meaningless adaptation of the wonderful and inspirational novel that became a bible for the Beat generation of the 50's and 60's. Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty is one of the few saving graces of one of the years most disappointing films. Hedlund's breakout performance is so good that I really believe he should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the end of the year. Mediocre film based on a wonderful novel. See the film solely for Hedlund's performance.

End of Watch
End of Watch(2012)

9.5/10. One of the most tense and gripping films I've seen all year. Gyllenhaal and Pena have some of the best on-screen chemistry I've ever seen, and both actors put in their best performances yet. In my opinion, End of Watch is a modern-day crime masterpiece. Aside from a few awkward moments, End of Watch is perfect entertainment.

Lawless
Lawless(2012)

7.5/10. Extremely well acted, beautifully filmed, and incredibly well directed. Unfortunately the film tries to be something it just isn't, which is a crime story of epic proportions. The violence is incredibly disturbing at times, but almost a joke at others. A lot like Michael Mann's 2009 effort Public Enemies in terms of tone and atmosphere. It's not a bad film, but it's not a terribly good one, either.

The Comedy
The Comedy(2012)
½

I understand what The Comedy was going for, but in the end it was really just an ugly, awkward, and difficult to watch character study. Tim Heidecker pus in a wonderful performance, but everything else seems to fall flat. Technically a "good" film, but definitely not an enjoyable one.

Radio Days
Radio Days(1987)

A wonderful, wonderful little film. Easily one of my favorite Woody Allen movies yet, and a beautiful coming-of-age movie. Amazing.

In the Bedroom

Featuring some stellar performances from Spacek and Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom is a pretty mediocre film in most other aspects. The first 30 minutes or so of the film are quite brilliant, but then it quickly becomes a "been there, done that" sort of film. The portrayals of grief and anger are handled relatively well for the first half of the film, but the end of the film makes you completely forget how well that first half is handled. The minimalist performances are amazing, but that's easily the best thing about In the Bedroom.

The Aviator
The Aviator(2004)

9.5/10. Easily one of the most incredible biopics ever made, and one of the greatest films in recent history. Martin Scorsese manages to outdo himself yet again, creating one of his best films ever. The costumes and sets were bang on, creating an incredibly realistic looking 1920's-1940's Hollywood. This is easily the best DiCaprio has ever been, and I can't wait until the day when he inevitably outdoes this performance. Cate Blachett as Katharine Hepburn was perfect, as was the entire supporting cast. Despite The Aviator's length, this film never feels long, or even remotely boring. If you enjoy biopics like Ed Wood or Chaplin or the films of Martin Scorsese, then The Aviator is a must-see.

The Woman in Black
½

Occasionally very chilling, The Woman in Black is a clunky little horror film at best. It's very by the numbers, and brings nothing new to the genre. A few scares here and there are quickly forgotten once the ghosts actually made their presence felt on screen, and this becomes your typical haunted house film. Radcliffe does a very good job as usual, and it's a well-directed film to boot.