Friday, 21 July 2017

Prisoners (2013)

Genres

Drama, Thriller

Director

Denis Villeneuve

Country

USA

Cast

Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Dennis Christopher, Dylan Minette, Zoe Soul, Erin Gerasimovih, Kyla-Drew Simmons, Wayne Duvall, Len Cariou, David Dastmalchian, Jeff Pope

Storyline

When his daughter (Erin Gerasimovih) and her friend (Kyla-Drew Simmons) go missing, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) has no choice but to take matters into his own hands as the police don't really do anything to find the two girls. 

Opinion

Despite the cast, watching Prisoners never crossed my mind. I barely acknowledged its existence, to be honest. But then Margaret posted "Prisoners" is still so very stupid, a post filled with spoilers. And since I really wanted to read it I figured I should watch the film first. And I'm glad I did it because if I read her post prior to viewing the film I'm pretty sure I would have never given it a chance, and it would have been a shame because Prisoners is a tight and incredibly tense thriller and I loved it.

The story arguably plays a huge role in the film. Although it's far from being believable, it does have some plot holes, some clichées and some parts don't make a lot of sense, it is one of the most gripping and absorbing kidnapping stories I've ever seen. It also raises a discussion on what is right and what is wrong.

Although it unfolds at a very slow pace, this is the kind of story that has the ability to keep you glued to the screen and on the edge of your seat from start to finish because of Villeneuve's direction and some good characters.

The characterization is indeed quite impressive. Both the father, played by Hugh Jackman, and the cop, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, are complex and well developed. Still, I would have loved a little backstory on the cop to understand the character better. But it isn't really the writing that makes them good, it's the actors, especially Jackman who truly delivers the despair of a man whose daughter has been kidnapped. Also worth of a mention is Paul Dano playing the young man who supposedly kidnapped the girls.

However, that's all subjective. Anyone could disagree with me. Something it's impossible to disagree on are the film's cinematography by Roger Deakins and score by Johann Johannsson. The first is simply breathtaking; the second is mesmerizing and adds even more tension.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Chosen One


Hello there, it's Thursday Movie Picks's time, the weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where you share three movies to fit the theme of the week each Thursday.

This week we have the typical cliché of the sci-fi and fantasy genre, the chosen one. That sole person chosen by an invisible force to stop a disaster from happening. Usually, it's saving the world from a super villain, or fighting the system. Or why not, die for everybody's sins. Oh, look, I've just described my three picks. I won't blame you if you stop reading. 

Life of Brian (1979)

It follows Brian of Nazareth, an unwilling prophet who wants to free his land from the oppression of the Romans. It's basically the story of Jesus but hilarious. My-stomach-is-hurting-like-crazy hilarious. I dare you, I double dare you to watch this and not laugh, especially during that Biggus Dickus scene. A classic.

The Matrix (1999)

Computer hacker Neo joins Rebel warriors Morpheus and Trinity to fight the Matrix, a machine ruling humans, and set humanity free. It's one of the best sci-fi ever made and one of those few that actually have a deep meaning. In this case, it addresses the human obsession to create smarter and smarter machines that will eventually rule us.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry and his friends search for Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes (objects in which he has hidden fragments of his soul) in their effort to destroy him. I haven't seen it in a while, but I loved it. And I went with this one because the chosen one finally fulfils his destiny.

Dead Snow (2009)

Original Title

Død snø

Genres

Comedy, Horror

Director

Tommy Wirkola

Country

Norway

Cast

Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal, Evy Kasseth Røsten, Jeppe Laursen, Jenny Skavlan, Ane Adhl Torp, Bjørn Sundquist, Ørjan Gamst

Storyline

A group of medical students decides to spend their vacation in an isolated cabin in the wilderness of Øksfjord and find themselves confronted by Nazi zombies.

Opinion

Complicit the heat wave that hit the small town I live in, I watched Dead Snow hoping that it would refresh me. Both physically and mentally because nothing is more appealing than snow when it's so freaking hot and nothing is more appealing than Nazi zombies when you want to shut down your brain and laugh your ass off. But I guess I put too much pressure on this demential Norwegian film because it didn't really work. 

Don't get me wrong, I had some fun when the students were chased around by those Nazi zombies, but it wasn't as fun as I wanted it to be. But I think it's my fault because apparently I can't do so-bad-it's-good kind of movies. And Dead Snow, well, it is that bad.

If you take the Nazi zombies away, the film completely lacks originality. It has the same storyline of every single slasher movie, it barely has a plot and all the stuff that happens is as predictable as a wasp on speed. 

The characters are also your typical slasher characters. Dumb guys, checked. Hot chicks, checked. You-are-all-doomed guy, checked. They are clichéed, stupid, annoying and as flat as a board. In other words, you couldn't care less for them. 

Which brings me to the next point, I was rooting for the zombies who, by the way, are not your typical zombies. They climb trees and run. And stab people. Aka a hell of a good reason to root for them. And the only enjoyable thing about the film. But also bad because I was rooting for the Nazis and something is telling me that's not cool.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

6 Years (2015)

Genres

Drama, Romance

Director

Hannah Fidell

Country

USA

Cast

Taissa Farmiga, Ben Rosenfield, Lindsay Burdge, Joshua Leonard, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Peter Vack, Jennifer Lafleur, Molly McMichael, Alysia Lucas, Jason Newman

Storyline

Although they only are in their 20s, Dan (Ben Rosenfield) and Melanie (Taissa Farmiga) have been in a relationship for 6 years. Their romance, however, gets monotonous and is put to test when Dan receives an attractive job offer.

Opinion

Monotony is boring, right? Then I guess 6 Years is a masterpiece because it's an unbelievably boring drama about a monotonous relationship. Well, that's what the film is supposed to be about.

The plot is a bit of a mess. It's unengaging and predictable right from the start, except for that part where the monotonous relationship turns into an abusive one. It's kinda refreshing thought because it's not the boy being abusive but the girl. She physically hurts him and he also goes to prison because of her. It's more of a toxic relationship where, for some reason I didn't really understand, none of the lovers wants to get away from. 

If I have to be honest, the two of them shouldn't even be in a relationship in the first place. They are completely different people. He's responsible and thinks about his future; she pretty much drinks all the time. This is, however, the film's way of being realistic by showing that most young relationships end because of such behaviours. It's obvious the responsible one is going to get tired of being the responsible one all the time.

Anyway, what I really hated about 6 Years is that it tries really hard to be a character study, but all it does is throw in a bunch of stereotyped characters I couldn't help but hate. There's the wasted white girl kind of character and the hipster kind of character. There's not development whatsoever.

So it came to me as a huge surprise that Taissa Farmiga and Ben Rosenfield, the leading actors, managed to do a fine job here. They actually give quite good performances. They might be worth the watch. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Raging Bull (1980)

Genres

Biography, Drama, Sport

Director

Martin Scorsese

Country

USA

Cast

Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, Frank Vincent, Johhny Barnes

Storyline

It follows two decades of the life of middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) involving a lot of violence, not only inside the ring, and jealousy.

Opinion

After putting off Raging Bull for years because I wasn't in the mood, I finally decided to give what critics call Martin Scorsese's finest film a shot. And I do not agree, this is not Scorsese's finest. I do agree, however, that it's painful to watch and powerful. While the powerful is a good thing, the painful is not as it's referred to how boring the film eventually gets.

The biggest problem is arguably the story. It's based on the true story of boxer Jake La Motta, a man so horrible that does not deserve a movie. A story about a man who self-destructs for no apparent reason, and that I struggle to find something interesting about. There is barely a plot, it's tedious and hence hard to follow. 

The characters are equally boring and uninteresting (most of them don't even have a reason to be in the film), although I have to admit Jake La Motta has some impressive characterisation and development. If done right, De Niro's obnoxious and unlikable character could have been very fascinating. The lack of proper writing did not prevent De Niro from giving a great performance though. He delivers La Motta's violent temper and obsessive nature beautifully and you can really see what a disturbed man La Motta is - or was. I hope he got better with age. Like wine.

But, now that I've mentioned several times how boring and uninteresting Raging Bull is, let's talk about the good stuff. Like the cinematography and the graceful camera movements. The use of black and white instead of colour is just brilliant and proves what a great filmmaker Scorsese is. It's perfect to put even more emphasis on the violence, and the fighting scenes come off more brutal and shocking than ever.