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It's not very often you come into a movie with rave reviews and it excedes expectation. Silver Linings Playbook is a breath or fresh air in a stale genre.
Rom coms these days seem to be catered to the lowest common denominator and are usually very formulaic. Silver Linings avoids all the don'ts in rom com land, it's funny, smart, well-written, it's got lots of heart and major acting from the entire cast. I haven't been impressed by writing like this since Aaron Sorkin's script on The Social Network.
Although the writing was fantastic, I was most impressed by the acting. All the leads fed off one another and were all superb and oscar worthy. Cooper and De Niro both stood out with a few tear jerker scenes. I honestly never thought Bradley Cooper was capable of a performance like this but he made a believer out of me. Funny thing to me is Lawrence won the oscar and was honestly the lesser of the leads. She won because of a weak category, but I felt De Niro and Cooper were both show stealers in every scene.
There isn't anything bad one can say about David O. Russell. I mean, this guy is on a role now after releasing the Fighter in 2010. The man is emerging as one of the best directors in Hollywood. He has a perfect tomato meter so far with nothing but fresh. He even made one of my personal favs in the 90's - Three Kings.
It's nice to have a rom com these days about actual real people. Most have stupid characters that do unbelievable things just for a laugh. They go for a silly factor that only idiots laugh to. But Silver Linings caters more to realism, heartbreak, and sometimes the real situations are genuinly funny without trying too hard.
Silver Linings Playbook is a true gem, one of the top movies of the year, right up there with Argo and Life of Pi.
Movie Breakdown -
Cinematography and score: 18/25
A must-watch for any rock fan, and more importantly Sound City is watchable even for those who don't care for documentaries.
Who does Dave Grohl think he is making a great roc doc having no experience as a director? Regardless, this man can do it all and apparently with ease. Grohl's attention to detail and story is vivid. I myself am not much into documentaries but I knew being a rock fan I had to see this one and I was honestly surprised at how good it was.
Only Dave Grohl could get the likes of Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks and of course Neil Young to tell the story of the great Sound City. I did not know too much about Sound City coming into this movie and I was pleased to learn more. Grohl told a great quickly-paced story of the classic recording venue spanning from the 70's all the way until the digital generation of now killed it.
Grohl lets the viewer deep inside the recording studio with Sound City, which is to rock as the recent doc "Side by Side" was to the film industry. Both films focus on how digital is changing our lives and in some ways for the worse as quantity is taking over for quality.
One cool aspect to Sound City was how we're treated to a present day recording session of Sound City's board in Grohl's house as he wanted to save a piece of Sound City as they went out of business. It was a nice change of pace and it was cool to see some of these old artists record on the historical board one last time. It did suck however that Grohl couldn't get Tom Petty or Neil Young to record with him.
If Grohl is this good in his directorial debut, I hope he continues telling rock stories because he has a true talent for rock story-telling.
Judd Apatow is proving growing up as a director may not be the best thing. This is 40 is very funny at times but the laughs can get lost in a long run-time with too much realism. These are all the same problems that plagued Apatow's last film "Funny People".
Apatow needs help in the editing department. He seems too close to his projects to edit them with proper finese, and despite being close to this project, This is 40 lacks heart. I also don't know how I feel about him casting his own wife and girls in this movie either. The biggest let down of this movie was the fact that it didn't feel anything like Apatow's previous smash hit "Knocked up", nor was it half as funny. The fact that it didn't feel like Knocked Up is important because This is 40 was pegged as a sort-of sequel to Knocked Up.
The problem with a comedy that is over 2 hours is if it starts to get unfunny you will really notice how long it is. This is 40 carries a lot of laughs early but as they dry up after the first hour or so it really becomes evident that could have been averted with a trim of the fat.
Another issue I had with this film is there really wasn't a plot, nor an ending. There really was no point to the movie. It's also paced poorly in no particular plan.
It's clear Apatow still is the man in the comedy game but he needs to take a step back and realize his last two films albeit are very funny, have been poorly edited. Otherwise all his future movies will continue to be plagued with this issue and Apatow will continue to gain a reputation of making these realistic comedies that are too long and all feature his wife in major roles. I notice that in Apatow's mega-hits his wife is only in small roles. It would be nice to see him leave out family members for a change of pace.
What really stood out in This is 40 was the funny cameos and supporting cast. Brooks, Lithgow, McCarthy, O'Dowd and Segel were all great in limited roles. And Paul Rudd was funny as usual. I really didn't see a point to Apatow's daughters being in the film, they were never funny at any point, and Leslie Mann is funny at times but others very annoying.
I liked the film's score. But again, only half the script was good, if this was trimmed down 30-50 minutes this really could have been a hit I feel. And longer run-times mean less shows too.
It seems like the once perfect-record Apatow is losing his touch. He still has the jokes, but that's not everything in a movie.
Movie Breakdown -
Cinematography and score: 18/25
It may have the same look and feel as the Lord of the Rings but it's not half as good nor half as entertaining. To say turning a 200-page book into a three-part trilogy is a money grab would be an understatement.
Everything just feels like a gimmick with The Hobbit. Whether it's the 3D, 48 frames per second, or even the stretching a small book into a 9 hour franchise, it just all seems like a money grab. Instead of brainstorming how they could make this franchise cooler and different they should have just focused on keeping the old machine running the same way. There always felt like there was a secret ingredient missing with this film to me.
Peter Jackson has taken his own baby and turned her into a whore to make more money. He took a naturally beautiful woman and slapped a bunch of makeup on her and make her look trashy. Don't get me wrong the CGI is good and all but some of it looks a little fake.
The pacing was the biggest problem with The Hobbit, I found myself yawning and checking the time throughout. Don't get me wrong, I love LOTR, they were classics, but this time around something is missing. I mean the last film won Best Picture! If Jackson had any love for his own franchise he would not have made this movie unless it was perfect, but all that seems to matter is banking another billion. If this isn't the textbook definition of a sell-out I don't know what is. We have gone from masterpiece to classy popcorn flick. But there's no need for this to be 3 hours. If they were doing 3 parts they could at least trim the movies down to a much-better paced 2 hours.
The choice of Martin Freeman as Bilbo was great, I knew he would bring a certain charm and humour to the role. All the characters were played well. The set-designs were vibrant as always and the score was nice.
At the end of the day The Hobbit is here for all the wrong reasons, money, money, and more money. It feels like there isn't any heart in the franchise anymore. I would call this movie an entertaining bore. Anyone who wasted 15 bucks a pop to see it in 3D needs to check their head. The Hobbit is well-worth the watch however for any fan.
Movie Breakdown -
Cinematography and score: 21/25
They said it couldn't be done, they said it was a book that was unfilmable. But Ang Lee not only did it, he made a masterpiece.
Some may nitpick and find reasons to hate Life of Pi because of it's religious tones but it truly is a splendid film powered by some of the best visual effects since Avatar.
Three things stuck out for me on this movie - storytelling, cinematopgraphy, and visual effects. It's good to see Ang Lee back in true form after the brutal 2009 flop "Taking Woodstock". It seems Lee is proving it was a mere blemish on a legendary career as he recently picked up the Oscar for best director. The key thing I notice in all his movies is the storytelling. He always knows how to suck the viewer in and never let go.
Damn that tiger looked real. Life of Pi has the best looking CGI animals we've ever seen on screen. Truly bar-setting quality. If I had no clue the animals were CGI I may have believed them to be real, they were that good. The acting by Suraj Sharma may not have been Oscar-worthy but this kid can act and he was especially good at acting around animals that weren't even there. Acting around real living things is one thing but when you can do a good job with things that aren't there it's just something they don't teach in film school.
The only negative reviews I've seen on this movie seem to nitpick at the religion but I don't understand why. This film is a bit religious but it's not preechy and it just lets you decide if his story is worthy of making you believe in god. But some idiots take it as being told they have to believe.
Usually movies like this tend to be too long, but I found Life of Pi perfectly paced and edited to a nice 2 hours or so. It's such a different film and the fact that it was a huge success is a great triumph. To take a book nobody wanted to touch because it was deemed impossible to adapt and turn it into this is A+. I personally liked this film more than Argo, and don't get me wrong, Argo was fantastic too.
Movie Breakdown -
Cinematography and score: 25/25