Jeff S.C.'s Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Good Night, Good Morning
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

With two strong central performances, a great script, and excellent use of artistic presentational tools, Good Night Good Morning is a very authentic, charming independent romance.

This movie didn't call for other-worldly performances, but believable ones, and that is exactly what it got. The two lead actors, played by Seema Rahmani and Manu Narayan, handle their dialogue with ease, never at all feeling forced or ingenuine. And since the majority of their performances are made up of the consistent delivery of dialogue, I can say nothing negative about either of the two lead performances, and considering my expectations, I can say I was actually quite impressed.

And that's what this movie is: two people talking. The conversation flows in a very natural, believable pattern, switching from topic to topic, delving into philosophy, religion, entertainment, and the nature of human relationships. But instead of films like Beyond Sunrise (which they specifically reference during the movie), this conversation is held entirely on the phone. We see the brief moment where they passingly meet in a bar, but the entirety of their relationship takes place over this single phone conversation. The supporting cast is used to sparingly, we often forget they're even in the movie in the first place. As the film progresses, everything else slips into the background; as the conversation becomes more in-depth, the connection between these two characters grows stronger.

Shot largely in black and white (with the exception of a few short flashback and fantasy sequences) and presented in split-screen. Both of these styles suit the tone of the film, making it feel both old-fashioned and technologically modern. I especially felt the use of split-screen was utilized to the film's advantage. This method allows us to see the characters' facial expressions throughout the entirety of their conversation; during every emotional moment and awkward pause, giving us the chance to see the way each character reacts during the moments when the camera normally wouldn't follow them.

I loved almost everything about this movie: The acting, writing, characters, its use of black and white, split-screen, and flashback/fantasy sequences. My only real complaint about this movie is in its lack of originality, which, as I've mentioned before on numerous occasions, still isn't too much of a concern to me. Though most people might find movies like this boring, I found it captivating. In other words, this is my kind of movie.

The Amazing Spider-Man
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

As enjoyable as the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies may have been, they never quite seemed to meet the full potential of what a Spider-Man movie was capable of. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst very poor casting choices, and Sam Raimi's added goofiness was at times entertaining, but often distracting. Spider-Man, being one of (if not) the most popular superheroes ever, deserves more. The Amazing Spider-Man is the one I've been waiting for.

In recent years the superhero genre has found a new breath of life, embracing a darkness that allows for far more layered plot and character development. This also creates a sense of danger for the characters that was previously not to be seen. While watching this movie, I found myself genuinely concerned for the lives of its characters -- something I've never experienced before in a Marvel movie. The original Spider-Man movies had no such sense of peril. Some of the characters may die, but there was never any weight behind their potentially life-threatening situations. In this movie, they somehow managed to keep me emotionally concerned at all times.

But to me, the main thing that made this movie work so well was the acting/casting. Andrew Garfield was an excellent choice. His personality and sense of humor makes for a very entertaining and likeable lead, capturing what I believe to be the essence of the character with great success. Rhys Ifans makes for an interesting and layered villain (quite reminiscent of Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2), with Emma Stone as the main love interest, and a strong supporting cast, which includes Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Denis Leary. I feel all of these actors suited their roles well, delivering memorable, believable performances.

The story may not be incredibly unique, but in taking its time setting up background for the characters and providing motivation for Spider-Man, I find it hard to argue with the results. Some of the plot-points may seem contrived, but no more than you could expect from a superhero movie -- which is something that you must keep in mind when watching this kind of movie. Regardless, The Amazing Spider-Man is about as good as I feel a superhero movie could be.

It may have been a premature reboot, but many of the mistakes of the original trilogy aren't to be found here. To compare, the only significant detail they didn't improve upon with this movie was the music. But if you find it unfair to purely compare it to the Raimi films, on its own it still stands as one of the most enjoyable superhero movies I've ever seen.

Emergo (Apartment 143)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

In order for a horror movie to work, some suspense is required. This means giving the audience enough time to comprehend the possibilities of what might happen before throwing "horror" at them. Thankfully, this isn't what this movie does. Unlike many movies that use jump-scare tactics to provide most of their horror, this movie doesn't have many moments that make you jump. In fact, it doesn't have many moments of any substance at all. Apartment 143 has minimal scares, character development, or payoff of any sort.

Before going any further, let it first be known that I am a fan of found-footage horror movies. Actually, found-footage movies of any genre. I think when used correctly, the gimmick can be used to aid the plot in introducing characters, giving documentary-like insight on their actions, and helps add realism to the story. When being told through a handheld camera, for whatever reason the action seems more plausible to me, as if it could be me holding that camera. That being said, I think the makers of this movie did not properly utilize this filmmaking method, and the result is dry, sluggish, and unoriginal. If you've seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies, you've seen this -- only those movies are actually good.

The set-up is generic. A small group of researchers are introduced by the man with the camera, who despite being the cameraman, seems to have no clue how to hold a camera still -- a cliche that has always bothered me about supposed "filmmakers" in these type of movies. They go to a family's home where 'supernatural events' (look, I can create movie titles, too!) are taking place, set up cameras, and - you guessed it - things start to get out of hand. There is genuinely nothing original about this story. The plot is so hopelessly generic, it's as if it was written by a computer program that compiles, recycles, and reuses previous screenplays and adds its own title pages.

The acting is sub-par, which can only be expected of a movie that focuses so little on its characters. I'm not entirely sure the characters are even supposed to make any connection to the viewers at all, as their presence seems to serve little more purpose than as a means to segue the story from one plot point to the next. While most found-footage movies utilize this method as a way to aid character development, this movie instead bypasses this notion, and moves straight on through to the story, eliminating any chance for the horror to successfully have any effect on the viewer. You can't feel any sense of urgency or fear for characters you're completely unfamiliar with. That's just not how it works.

To go into greater detail why the horror in this movie doesn't work, most of this is due to the camerawork. The cinematography is too aggressive. When something shocking or horrifying is supposed to be happening, if you can't see it because they're continuously waving the camera around at dangerously high speeds and shaking it back and forth, we eventually lose interest and stop trying to be scared completely. Horror requires some participation from the viewers. The filmmakers need to incentivize the audience, or it simply won't work. Watching Apartment 143, I felt no need to even attempt to be scared. Granted, there was one moment I found genuinely creepy, but that didn't even happen until the last 5 seconds of the movie. And that was a cheap scare, to say the least, that quite possibly only stood out to me due to the lack of effectiveness of the horror that preceded it. And it was shot with a camera being held in place, only slightly moved by a mechanical motor. See where I'm getting at?

All things considered, this isn't a "bad" movie, per se, it's just a deeply flawed one. And the flaws stem from almost every single aspect of the movie. I would say "watch it for yourself", but I can't really recommend it. As I previously mentioned, if you've seen the Paranormal Activity movies, you've seen this same basic plot played out already, and more effectively. And if you didn't like that series, I would definitely not recommend this, as it is basically just a cheap, less effective knock-off. But it did have one thing going for it -- it wasn't very long. Whoop-de-doo.

Marvel's The Avengers
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

When I first saw trailers for this movie, I thought it looked like it would be nothing more than a chaotic, cluttered, mess of CGI explosions... First impressions aren't always right.

Superhero movies are a tired genre. Nearly every one follows the same story structure; brief and uninspired back story, discovery of superpowers or abilities, unnecessary romantic entanglement, convenient introduction of a villain at the same time as the creation of the hero, etc. Look up just about any superhero movie (especially from the Marvel cannon) and that is what you'll get. But where other superhero movies spend most of their time with these generic set-ups, The Avengers both doesn't want, or have the need of these rules. All of these characters have been introduced in their own films, so what we have here is the culmination of a series of generally lackluster movies, including Captain America: The First Avenger, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man 1 & 2, and the result is better than I could have possibly hoped for.

Written and directed by Joss Whedon, who also co-wrote The Cabin In The Woods (another of this year's best films so far), Whedon manages to blend humor into the action to great effect. This is probably the funniest conventional superhero movie I've ever seen. Despite the incredible action sequences and top-of-the-line special effects, to me it was the comedic elements that won me over. Instead of taking itself too seriously all the time, this movie knew when it could be funny and when it needed to be serious without making radical tonal shifts.

This movie succeeds on so many levels. Along with perfectly blending action, suspense, comedy, and drama, Whedon also manages to give every central character adequate screen time, all the while understanding that several of these characters have definite limitations in how functional they could conceivably be -- let's be serious here, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Captain America are in no way going to be as useful at the world as Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk. And thanks, yet again, to Whedon's excellent writing, plot convenience rarely enters into the script. This is the case especially with Hawkeye, who for the entire duration of the movie I was fearing the script would find some convenient use for his incredible marksmanship, e.g., a far-off, pin-sized target which needed to be hit with great precision during a brief window of time. Instead of leaving the movie thinking "well, wasn't THAT convenient", you might leave the movie saying "that was AWESOME!".

Another major difference that set this movie apart was the casting of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Not having seen The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton, I cannot attest to his performance, but I can say that found Ruffalo to be a vast improvement over Eric Bana from the 2003 Ang Lee incarnation. Of course Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark dominates the cast, reminding us once again why the Iron Man movies are the best of the prequel series. Stark's brash confidence and sense of humor allows for excellent chemistry with the entire cast, serving as the cornerstone of the movie. Tom Hiddleston's performance is also a standout, yet again turning in a great villainous performance as Loki.

With the possible exception of The Dark Knight, I would be inclined to say this is the best superhero movie I've ever seen. But where Nolan went with a dark, moody tone with his film, Whedon went with a brighter, more exciting approach, making The Avengers less brooding, but more entertaining. It may stand as being one of the best movies of the year come December, there's no way of knowing that at this point. But one thing is for sure -- it's the most entertaining so far.

Beyond The Black Rainbow
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Interesting visuals, compellingly catatonic performances, and a dark, brooding musical score blend together brilliantly to make Beyond The Black Rainbow one of the most intriguing and hypnotic movies of the year.

Much of this film features lengthy, meandering sequences filled with striking imagery and brooding electronic music. Was there any deep meaning to these scenes and the strange visuals found within? At the risk of sounding completely incompetent, honestly, I have no idea. Perhaps these scenes take place solely in the mind of the characters -- who, for various reasons, find themselves escaping into a reality far more terrifying than their own. Or maybe the director just thought they looked cool and needed a way to fill out the movie's running time. Regardless, this is a compelling movie to look at, in the very least.

There are very few actors in this movie, but the few that are there make the most of the material they're given. In a way, the acting matches the visuals. Every actor delivers their lines in a hesitant, somber tone, giving lingering glances with vacant expression, seemingly devoid of any emotion; in a different movie these actors would be far less effective, but their performances work perfectly here. No, the acting is not great, but everyone involved perform their roles in a way that effectively complements and suits the movie around them. In a way, that's what makes this movie work so well -- nothing feels out of place.

The musical score largely consists of a deep, electronic humming, giving the entire movie a haunting atmosphere which I found deeply unsettling. On the surface, this could hardly be viewed as a straight-up horror movie, but the deeply unsettling nature of this film makes it far more effective than most horror movies I've seen. What it lacks in story and character development, it more than makes up for in atmospheric tension. The music is a key component of this and, as a result, I found myself uneasy throughout the entire film.

This is not a movie for everyone. With the acting, visuals, and music all working to create a single, fluid design, it should come as no surprise that most people will either love, or hate this movie. I can easily see 95% of viewers being turned off by the slow, haunting tone of the film, with the other 5% truly admiring its artistic quality. And, as is the case with most "love it or hate it" movies, I find myself riding somewhere near the middle, both admiring its strengths and resenting its flaws. Though I was never bored at any point during the movie, I felt at times it was moving far too slow for its own good, so it struck me as odd that the film would end on such an abrupt note. Much like this review.