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Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Ewan and Naomi Do The Impossible!!!

In Movies on January 23, 2013 at 6:47 pm

“The Impossible”, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona,  depicts the story of Maria, played by Naomi Watts, and Henry Bennett, played by Ewan McGregor, who take their three boys Lucas, Tom Holland, Thomas, Samuel Joslin, and Simon, Oaklee Pendergrast, to Thailand to spend Christmas. The family arrives ready to spend some time swimming in the beautiful ocean and relaxing by the pool. Dealing with mundane problems such as job security and sleeping trouble, the Bennetts are caught completely off guard by a tsunami that wreaks havoc upon South East Asia. Oh, did I forget to mention that this was based upon a true story revolving around a family who experienced the 2004 tsunami that devastated Thailand and many other countries? Oh, I didn’t? Well, this story is about one family and their struggle to survive an event that nearly destroyed them mentally and physically. Somewhat graphic and very poignant, “The Impossible” shows how strong Mother Nature is, how humans come together in a time of crisis, and how relationships shape the choices we make everyday.

This movie was excellent. First and foremost, the sets themselves were astounding, Ewan  and Naomi were actually shot in surging water. There were moments when some objects were computer generated, as well as some scenes, but these characters, for the most part, were actually swimming in the water trying to find one another.  Because of Hollywood’s proclivity to computer generate just about everything, I found that the director’s choice of shooting these scenes in actual water amazing. It was something that I immediately noticed, thus, allowing me to never forget this film.

Naomi Watts was exceptional in this film. That is not to say that I believe she deserved the win over Jessica Chastain, because I do not believe that she was better but she was excellent. She appeared to be really struggling with what was occurring around her and displayed this for the audience quite well. For all I know she may have actually been struggling because, apparently  she had to perform her water scenes for 5 weeks.

Tom Holland was extraordinary in this film, completely coming out of left field, this actor captivated me and appeared to be no novice. He knew how his character would react to that situation and became completely immersed in that role. Tom Holland displays his emotions so well and so vividly that it is very tough not to react to them.

The story in it of itself is also worth noting because it is one of hope. I thought to myself, after seeing this movie, that I wanted to move as far in land as possible. But I figured that anything could strike us at any moment, be it a hurricane, a tsunami, or a tornado. Given the quality of tech that we have available at our disposal, it is safe to presume that we will have some form of warning if some event like this were coming, but that doesn’t mean we would not be affected by it. This movie inspires hope in humanity, showing that when the chips are down we come together. We struggle to survive because if there is nothing else for us to do, then we must at least do that. This story showed the destruction of the tsunami and the hope that rose in the aftermath.

“The Impossible” was an extremely beautiful story, depicting how the love for one’s family and for humanity, have an effect on our decisions, especially following a catastrophe. Check this movie out. It is totally worth it.

 

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Dance For Me Bradley! Dance Damn You!

In Movies on January 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

As I stated in my last review, I would be watching “Silver Linings Playbook” quite soon and last night I had the privilege of doing so.

“Silver Linings Playbook”, directed by David O. Rusell who directed such great movies as “Three Kings” and “The Fighter” is a sleeper hurt telling the story of Pat, played by Bradey Cooper,  who returns home after a brief stint in a mental health facility following an incident involving  Pat catching his then wife Nikki, played by Brea Bee, and her lover Doug Culpepper, played Ted Barba, making love in the shower. Upon returning home, Pat tries to read his way through Nikki’s syllabus and  run off his fat, in hopes that she will return to him. While doing so, Pat comes to terms with his father’s, played by Robert De Niro new form of employment, his mother’s motherlyness, played by Jacki Weaver, his best friend Ronnie, played by John Ortiz, and his awful marriage to Veronica, played by Julia Stiles. While dealing with his own mental health problems and the peer pressure from his friends to act normal, Pat encounters Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who has a series of mental health problems all on her own. These two individuals come together, come apart, and dance throughout their drug fueled semi-dating relationship.

This movie was strikingly different from the book in a number of ways that I will discuss later on. However, this doesn’t make it a bad movie and there are some changes that I enjoyed and some that I did not. But, before I begin, let me just mention a few actors in this film that really stood out.

Jennifer Lawrence was excellent in this film. She most certainly deserved the Golden Globe for her portrayal of Tiffany because she became her. She stomped around on camera, reeling from one emotion to the next, displaying her inability to control herself in front of the camera beautifully and tragically. I don’t know if she read the book, but after watching this I felt that she truly understood what her character was suffering from and what her character wanted.

Bradley Cooper was good, but not great. Thinking back to his role in this film, I wouldn’t say it was Golden Globe or Oscar worthy, but it was good. He seemed to understand what to display when his character was having an emotional break down, there were a few points where he seemed to have some difficulty. The relationship with his father wasn’t as flushed out in this film, as it should have been, and I think his character would have benefited from this.

Jacki Weaver was excellent as the saintly mother who doesn’t believe that anyone in this world, especially her son, could do anything wrong. She showed us the questioning that Dolores felt whenever Pat had an episode quite well, allowing the audience to see that she may be having second thoughts about  helping her son out of the mental health facility.

Those three stars really stood out in this film. I thought the story made this movie worth it, although, I would recommend reading the book first because I prefer that ending to this one. So, read the book and then see the movie. You’ll love it.

Now onto the spoilers!

I did not like how this movie did not have Pat work to uncover what had happened. I think that was a key feature of the book that made it so gripping and entertaining. I was very disappointed that Russel chose to not have Pat work to uncover what had happened to him.

I liked the father in the movie but I liked how Pat, and his father, and to work together to gain some resemblance of a relationship. I, personally, felt that when the book ended, Pat had accomplished so much while in the movie, he scored a 5 in their dance competition and fell in love with Tiffany. I know that sounds like a lot, and believe me it is, but still he did a lot more in the book. I also didn’t like the whole career that Pat’s father had in the movie. He was awful in the book and in the movie he appeared to be a nice guy, but a bookie on the side. I would have liked him to be one or the other in the movie, not in the middle of the road.

Another aspect of this movie that I did not like was the classic Hollywood ending. He scorns his ex, who cheated on him, and gets the girl. In the book, it’s left up in the air whether he will be involved with Nikki romantically or not. I liked that. These two individuals are experiencing a lot of mental health and the fact that both of them appear to overcome their issues and fall in love, at the end of the movie, seems too much of a good thing. At the end of the book they are together but they aren’t spooning and gazing into each other’s eyes. They are looking to the sky to find those damn silver linings.

We Are Going to Play This One By The Book. The Silver Linings Playbook, That Is!

In Books on January 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Before I begin, this is a review concerning the book The Silver Linings Playbook and not the amazing movie, which, hopefully, I will be fortunate enough to watch tonight.

The Silver Linings Playbook was written by Matthew Quick and details the rough recovery of Pat Peoples, what a ridiculous name, and Tiffany who are both recovering from a severe mental health breakdown for both very different reasons. Pat returns home determined to reunite with his wife while living in the basement of his parent’s house doing a series of workouts involving a dizzying amount of pushups, pullups, situps, and chest press, all of which are covered in detail, but thankfully not too much detail. Pat eventually meets Tiffany at a dinner he attends at his friend’s Ronnie’s house. Right off the bat, Tiffany strikes Pat as odd but this does not stop him from going on silent runs with her or sharing a bowl of bran cereal. While at home, Pat tries to reconnect with his Eagle’s obsessed Father, his prodigal-son brother, and his crazed football obsessed friends,  all the while trying to recover from the incident that put him in the mental health facility. Pat tries to help his mother as much as he can while also supporting Tiffany with the issues that she is recovering from, sometimes so much so, that it puts Pat’s own mental health in danger.

The Silver Linings Playbook is well written depicting, what I care to believe, an accurate portrayal of mental health and the recovery from a serious traumatic event. Pat will often use the voice of a child to describe what is occurring, something that is not typical of a 3o year old man, but something that is very typical of an individual within the mental health system. Pat tries to understand what has happened to him without revealing too much, which would only result in pain. When these moments occur, Pat reacts realistically often exploding at those around him and himself as well. Tiffany also appears to act quite realistically to her own traumatic event, resorting to ways that are less aggressive but still very detrimental to her own well-being.

The home life for Pat is also worth mentioning because it is an aspect of this book that the author appears to have some experience with, because of how real it appears. As a mental health professional, I can say that the individual’s who need treatment the most, often do not have the familial social support that they deserve and many believe is readily available. The interaction between Pat and his parent’s displays this quite well, showing moments when Pat wishes to come closer to his father only to be pushed away by an ignorant imbecile who doesn’t understand what has happened. Tiffany’s relationship with her respective family is also quite rough, often using her mental health status to hurt her. I am here to tell you that this does happen more than you think and that this section of the book should not be considered fiction.

The relationship that Pat established with his therapist may have caught many readers off-guard, due to its liberalness. I believe that man individual’s think that a psychologist should have firm boundaries and they should abide by them. That is true, for specific cases. Pat’s therapist, Cliff Patel, knows that these boundaries do not need to be enforced and, given the state of Pat’s home, Cliff knows that Pat will often need a friend more than a doctor. I know plenty of therapists who believe that the relationship Cliff established with Pat is one of great value and should be one in which the standard is set.

So, this book is worth it. It is a quick read, keeps you entertained/on the edge of your seat till the very end, and it inspired the movie. So, before you see the film, read the book!

Macklemore Critiques Rap While Rapping

In Music on January 14, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Macklemore’s album, The Heist, is one of the best albums I have listened to in a long time on repeat. I would compare this album to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange and God I know that Macklemore got a lot of recognition for this album and I hope he makes something of this album because it is worth listening to. So much in fact, that I actually bought the album, who buys albums these days. I Youtubed and Spotified the entire album and researched who Macklemore really was. After doing so, I decided to support in the best way, by buying his art.

Macklemore is a rapper out of Seattle whose song Thrift Shop has been all over the airwaves. This song is good but definitely not the best song off the album. Macklemore teamed up with Ryan Lewis to produce their own album, after turning down an offer from Jimmy Iovine at Interscope records, an act he discusses in Jimmy Lovine. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis distributed their album through their website, macklemore.com, and Itunes making their album No. 2 on the Billboard charts and No. 1 in the Itunes store. This feat would not have been accomplished a few years ago and thanks to technology artists such as Macklemore can distribute their music, have more control over their music, and make more money off of their music, then if they worked with a large music conglomerate. Macklemore worked hard to get where he currently is and it completely paid off, making The Heist a solid collection of songs.

My top two favorite songs off of Macklemore’s album are Wing$ and Same Love and honestly it is tough to choose between the two. I love the meaning behind each song, the fascination with consumerism and gay marriage, respectively. They are also very powerful songs. In Same Love, Macklemore dissects the use of the word “faggot” within the rap industry and explains how hate such as this led to the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s, a movement that was led predominately by African-Americans who also are quite predominant in the rap industry. In Wing$, Macklemore explains his youthful fascination with Nike Air Jordan and discusses the problems associated with this fascination, the consumer becomes consumed by the shoe so much in fact that they no longer wear them. Macklemore continues explaining how he became these shoes, when he was young, and how currently he seems them as no more than just a pair of shoes. The tie breaker between these two songs, are the music videos. While Wing$ is a very powerful video, Same Love is more-so, showing the struggles homosexual individuals face while in elementary school and coming out to their family members. The ending also contains a twist which I did not see coming and made this song that much more powerful. I have been listening to this songs non-stop for the past few weeks and both of them are powerful.

Starting Over describes Macklemore’s struggles with addiction and his relapse. This song is incredibly sad, ending on a hopeful note, while also being very informative. Individuals who are not addicts themselves, can try to understand how hard it is to stay sober, but they will never be able to completely understand how difficult it is. Macklemore offers a glimpse behind the curtain at addiction, allowing the listener to understand what he has gone through and what every struggling ex-addict is going through.

A Wake is another song worth noting because of its description of generational problems. From teen pregnancy to racial differences to police brutality, all of this is described within A Wake. Macklemore also appears to urge the listeners to wake up, see what is occurring, and do something about it.

10,000 hours discusses the persistence to practice, utilizing Malcolm Gladwell’s idea that people are excellent at things because they practice, at least 10,000 hours. Within this song, Macklmore discusses how he became who he is and how hard he worked to obtain that. He appears to even be talking to those struggling rappers out there, telling them to practice more. Try harder and you shall succeed.

In Make the Money, Macklemore discusses the trouble with money that every rapper comes across. Once an individual becomes famous, they will often lose their base fan group who liked them when they were local and indie. Macklemore tells his fans that he doesn’t plan on changing once the money starts rolling in, rather he plans on utilizing the money he makes to change the game. Macklemore reassures his fans with this song while also criticizing other rappers who had a change of heart when they suddenly began making money.

Thrift Shop deserves a mention because while it is a hilarious song, it has a similar theme to that of Wing$. In Thrift Shop, explains all of the deals he found at a thrift store, while comparing his buys to individuals who are obsessed with labels and expensive clothing. Macklemore makes himself the victor of this comparison by explaining that he looks different because everyone buys that t-shirt or those pair of pants, and by appearing different he stands out.

There are several other songs on this album, but I felt that these were worth mentioning. That is not to say that those songs are bad, the album is excellent, but these songs really affected me. They were beautiful, well written, and extremely powerful. Go and check him out, and then get his album. You won’t be disappointed.

My Take on the Golden Globies

In Awards on January 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Last night was the Golden Globes and you would know this unless you lived under a rock, do not have television, or do not care anything for movies or television. Sadly, I was not able to watch all of it, but of what I saw, I have to say that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did a great job. I think the individuals who call the shots for these ceremonies, should take note, don’t just choose comedians choose comedians who excel in improvisation. Who not only star in shows, but write their own materials. Like I said, I wasn’t able to catch this entire show, but from what I saw, from the highlights, these two were great. So, without further ado I will offer my thoughts on the Golden Globe winners. Note: I will only offer my opinion on those categories that I feel I have enough information to discuss.

Best Picture: Argo

This movie was running against “Life of Pi”, “Django Unchained” “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” I have seen all of those movies except for “Life of Pi” and I don’t believe that Affleck deserved this win for one glaring reason. He chose to direct this movie and star in it, despite the fact that the main character, Tony Mendez, was Latino. I mentioned this in my review of the movie, pointing out the fact that in the end when a picture of the actual Tony Mendez is revealed, it is shown very rapidly. I loved the movie, loved the story, loved the acting, but I wish Affleck took a step back and allowed a prominent Latino actor to play Tony Mendez. I honestly think Lincoln should have won this.

Best Performance Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”

Sadly, I also haven’t seen any of the other nominees for this category, but unless they were up to par with Daniel Day-Lewis’s Lincoln, then I don’t think they deserve to win. I understand that is a given but still, I thought he was astounding in this film. That being said, I hope that John Hawkes takes home an Oscar or a Golden Globe one of these days, because I think he is an exceptional actor and will try to catch “The Sessions” sometime in the future. I also would like to see “The Master” because I have only hear really polarized reviews regarding this movie.

Best Performance Actress: Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty”

I think Chastain totally deserves this win. I thought “Zero Dark Thirty” was an excellent film and I completely believe that she deserves this win. I love Naomi Watts, Helen Mirren, and Marion Cotillard, but I think Chastain deserved the honor more than this other nominees because of what she did within the film and what she represents.

Best Performance Actress Musical/Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”

Yes! I absolutely adore Lawrence, I loved her in “Winter’s Bone” and I loved her as Mystique and I assure you that I will see this movie because I think she is a wonderful actress and think she absolutely deserved this win.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained”

Absolutely. He made this film what it was and it is such a damn shame that Samuel Jackson  did not receive a nomination. However, I do know that Jackson will win won of these days and when that happens I will most certainly cry with happiness. But, that’s besides the point. Waltz deserved this win. I loved Arkin in “Argo” and Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln” but they did not hold a candle to the flame that is Waltz.

Best Director: Ben Affleck for “Argo”

Again, I have such a problem with this movie because of Affleck’s choice to star in it. I feel it could have been just as good had he taken a step out and let someone else lead, preferably someone who wasn’t raised in Boston. I think that either Spielberg or Tarantino should have won for this category and if I was tortured and had to choose between those two, I would have to say “Lincoln.” Call me a sheep, a follower, but have you seen this movie? The acting, the script, the everything, came together and made it a movie that I will never forget.

Best Screenplay:  Tarantino for “Django Unchained”

Yep, this totally takes the cake. Tarantino’s scripts are allowing his movies to be untouchable, when it comes to dialogue, and forever quotable. Now I know I was just rallying for “Lincoln” in the last category and I do think that Spielberg should have won for best director, however when putting Tarantino’s script and Spielberg’s script side by side, there is no comparison. Tarantino knew his characters, gave them some great lines, allowing them to become something more.

Best Original Song: Skyfall

Have you heard this song? I mean I am so far from being an Adele fan but sweet Jesus, this song is one hell of a Bond song. It’s a damn good Bond song. It’s a damn great Bond song. Catchy, powerful, and performed so damn well by Adele. I absolutely agree that this song deserved the win.

Best Television Series: Homeland

I’m a little on the fence about this because I am partial to “Boardwalk Empire” and “Breaking Bad” but that being sad I do, slightly, agree that this movie deserved the win. It’s a damn good show and I hope that it keeps getting better. I do hope that “Boardwalk Empire” takes home a Golden Globie one of these days.

Best Television Series Musical/Comedy: Girls

Nope. I have a huge problem with this show. Let me begin by saying that I only watched three episodes of this show and I did not like it. Show me a show that depicts whiny white girls living in the gentrified section of Brooklyn who can’t stop complaining about how awful their life is and I will show you “Sex in the City.” Congrats to Lena Dunham, but this show isn’t funny, interesting, or at all worth watching. It should have been “Modern Family.”

Best Performance Actor in Television: Damian Lewis for “Homeland”

Again, I love this show and again, I really would like Steve Buscemi to get some recognition for his role in “Boardwalk.” But I also think that Damian Lewis is phenomenal in “Homeland” and that, given where season 3 is going, he will only get better. Also, some love to Bryan Cranston wouldn’t hurt either but that’s neither here nor there.

Best Performance Actress in Television: Claire Danes for “Homeland”

If you haven’t watched “Homeland” you probably should, if you haven’t figured that out all ready. I think she deserved this because not only is she a great actress but I have a thing for strong women sticking it to men, which she does a lot in this show. Not the biggest fan of Connie Britton either and I’m also very surprised Glenn Close got nominated for “Damages” because she isn’t very good in that show.

Best Actor in Television Musical/Comedy: Don Cheadle for “House of Lies”

Have you ever seen this show? Well if you haven’t, don’t, and I will save you some time. This show should be titled as “Don Cheadle Talks to the Camera a lot and Has a Lot of Sex as Well.” It isn’t funny, it’s tragic. It doesn’t seem to have a point and I don’t like any of the characters. I wish Louis C.K. took this award home because I absolutely love “Louie” and I think he deserved it.

Best Actress in Television Musical/Comedy: Lena Dunham for “Girls”

Nope. Tiny Fey, Amy Poehler, or Zooey should have taken this. Not Lena Dunham. They deserve it so much more than she does because they write a damn funny show and they star in a hilarious show as well. “Girls” isn’t funny, it’s pointless, and uninteresting. Save yourself the time and the energy, just walk through Brooklyn, or any hipster bar for that matter, and listen to the young women complain about how their daddy is cutting them off. That’s “Girls” for you.

So there’s my take on the Golden Globies. Some winners I agreed with and some I did not. I cannot wait for the Oscars and if you have any points/counterarguments then just comment and let me know what you think!

The Dirtiest Thirty There Is!

In Awards on January 14, 2013 at 1:13 am

First off, props to Jessica Chastain for taking home the Globe for Best Actress for her role in”Zero Dark Thirty.” Such a great movie and she completely deserves it.
“Zero Dark Thirty” tells the story of Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, who works as an agent for the C.I.A. determined to track down Osama bin Laden. Beginning her career working underneath Dan, played by Jason Clarke, as well as Joseph Bradley, played by Kyle Chandler. While serving alongside and underneath the two aforementioned characters, Maya learns the art of torture, the potential benefits of it, this movie does a good job of staying neutral with regards to the torture subject. Maya rises in the ranks meeting with George, played by Mark Strong, who appears to work directly underneath the head of the C.I.A., played by James Gandolfini. Maya struggles to gain the attention of the higher-ups within the C.I.A. and to maintain their focus on catching and killing Osama bin Laden. Despite losing people along the way and attempts on her life, Maya doesn’t back down and works to ensure that those who died on 9/11, did not die in vain.

This was an excellent film. Kathryn Bigelow, bravo, you are officially two for two. Loved “The Hurt Locker” and I do believe that you have quite the career ahead of you. I, personally, would like to see what other facets of American life you can cover, other than something to do with war. However, so far so good. This movie was well scripted, well acted, and surprisingly humorous.

Jessica Chastain, was amazing in this film. I cannot recall if I have seen her in any other film and if I did and if she was in it, she didn’t play a big enough part for me to remember. SO, that being said, this is almost like a breakout role for her, at least to me, and she was incredible in this film. I felt like she really understood her character, what she was striving for, and why she was striving for it. She just portrayed herself so well that I wanted her to succeed so badly.

Jason Clarke also deserves mentioning within this film because he portrayed a C.I.A. interrogator excellently. I like the reality in his character, nobody can do what he did without getting affected by it, and affected by it, he was. I just hate the unrealistic Arnold Schwarzenegger types, sometimes not all the time, and like to see people actually be affected by the body count or what crimes they have committed.

Another honorable mention is that of Justin-DEVGRU, played by Chris Pratt. In this film, he brings a bit of his Andy-isms, the character he portrays in “Parks and Recreation”, to this film. When he first began speaking to Maya, asking her about various parts of the mission, I was shocked to hear such technical words come out of his ridiculous mouth. Pratt’s role in this film did not make this film great, but did make this film a bit funnier.

The role women play within movies needs to be addressed as well because I like where Hollywood is heading. Everyone knows how “Twilight” depicted women as helplessly attractive and I like to think that movies such as “The Hunger Games” “Winter’s Bone”, yes I have a thing for Jennifer Lawrence, are a reaction to that hopeless, helpless, female character. That’s not to say that this strong willed female existed before “Twilight”, she was present in Ripley in “Aliens” and she was also present Clarissa Starling in”Silence of the Lambs.” Strong female characters rock and should be present within more films not only because they rock but because they make for one hell of a good story. The weak female in need of help, is cliche, boring, and has been done way too many times. Show me a woman who instead of screaming for a man’s help during a zombie breakout wields the machete herself and I will show you my future wife. Jessica Chastain was the lead actress within this film, sometimes the only female within the room, and still did a wonderful job. Kathryn Bigelow is an up and coming female director who beat out her ex-husband, Spielberg  by winning the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker.” Both of these women deserve a ton of credit for what they accomplished within “Zero Dark Thirty” and by God, I hope we see more of it.

I also believe that the story in it of itself is worth noting and a great part of this film don’t worry I won’t spoil anything. I love stories in which there appears to be a lot going on behind the scenes, I, I would assume the typical American as well, had no idea anything of this nature was going on. The research, the effort, the tailing, somebody out there was working to ensure that America was not attacked again. This story needed to be told because it showed an America recovered, a stronger America, a smarter America.  This story showed that we got it right, that we can do better, and that we can stop future attacks.

So if you are interested in this story, want to see why Jessica Chastain won her Golden Globe, and like explosions, trust me there are a lot of them, then you will love this film. Beautifully shot, realistic, funny, informative, and down right gripping all of these, this movie is!

Let’s Converse a Little, Shall We?

In Movies on January 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm

“The Conversation”, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, tells the story of Harry Caul, wire-tapper extraordinaire, played by Gene Hackmen, who takes a job that appears fine at face value but quickly deteriorates into something more than that. Caul, working alongside Stan, played by John Cazale, eavsdrops onto the conversation that is taking place in the middle of Union Square, San Francisco  not New York, between Mark, played by Frederik Forrest, and Ann, played by Cindy Williams. After listening to their conversation, improving it, and mixing it, Caul decides to turn the tapes the man who hired him. BUT WAIT! Harrison Ford, playing Martin Stett, tries to intercept this deal, saving his boss, played by Robert Duvall, the tough decision that he has to make. When the deal is about to be completed, Caul negates it at the last second, deciding to take matters into his own hand, despite the dark warning from Martin Stett. This movie builds builds and builds leading the audience to an ending that seemingly comes out of nowhere, but when reminisced upon appears possible.

This movie was meh. I was actually just talking about movies from the ’70s, telling her that I love movies from the ’70s., “Dirty Harry”, “Bullitt”, “The French Connection”, all great movies from the ’70s. “The Conversation” was not one of these movies, which was very disappointing to me because I love Gene Hackmen, especially ’70s Gene Hackmen. And he was the biggest disappointment within this film. It seemed like he didn’t have a good grasp as to what his character was supposed to be or what emotions he was supposed to play. He was all over the place, first angry, than sad, then yearning for closeness, then mad that somebody got two close. I don’t know if it was Hackmen’s fault or Coppola’s but he appeared to not have a good grasp as to who Harry Caul was.

This movie also suffered a bit from lack of suspense. As I stated before, it was suspenseful but it could have been so much more! Wire tapping is extremely suspenseful, that’s one of the aspects that made “The Wire” so amazing, among others, and yet I felt that Coppola didn’t develop this aspect of the film as much as he could have. For instance, in the scene when they make the initial recording it is completed quite easily, despite it being a difficult area to cover. Caul explains how this is done later on in the film but I wish this painstaking process was shown, it would have been a lot more exciting.

So, in conclusion, this movie wasn’t that great. This film suffered from its lack of development regarding wire tapping, which it should have tapped more, HA get it!, and Hackmen’s confusing portrayal of Harry Caul. There are much better movies on Netflix, much better movies from the ’70s and much better movies starring Gene Hackmen.

Bernie Gets BUUUURRRNNNNEED

In Movies on January 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm

“Bernie” was suggested to me by none other than the interwebs. It seemed that every blog I gazed upon, people commented on this film stating that it was an underrated hit. Reading this, and then seeing that it was on Netflix, I decided to watch Bernie and I wouldn’t say it was completely underrated.

“Bernie”, directed by Richard Linklater, stars Jack Black, as Bernie Tiede a mild-mannered, funeral director who enjoys doing more for others then himself. Taking place in Carthage Texas, Bernie arrives and quickly becomes one of the townspeople, putting on plays and befriending the older ladies who may just be lucky enough to have him direct their funeral. All the townspeople, many were actually interviewed for this movie and those interviews were dispersed throughout, felt that Bernie was a great addition to the town. One individual by the name of Danny Buck, assistant district attorney for the county played by Matthew McConaughey, felt that there was more to Bernie than meets the eye. While befriending the townsfolk, most notably the older female generation, Bernie encounters a particularly difficult nut to crack, Majorie Nugent, played by Shirley Maclaine, who can be described as difficult, although this word doesn’t nearly cover it. After befriending her, then working for her, then eventually living with her, Bernie finally has enough.  And that folks is where I will end my synopsis.

As I stated before, this movie was good but it wasn’t great. I believe that it is due some recognition  specifically Jack Black’s performance within the film, but other than that I would have to say that I didn’t find it particularly and I felt that this was due to the format it was filmed in, it appeared to be a documentary/film which didn’t really work for this story. But I will discuss that in more detail later on.

Jack Black performed wonderfully in this film, acting within that grey area between homosexuality and heterosexuality, which was something that many people said was a characteristic of Bernie’s. He portrayed the do-gooder exceptionally well and when he encountered a particularly dark moment, he appeared to act realistically. This was also a character I have never seen Jack Black play before, which demonstrated his ability to flex his thespian muscle. I hope that, as a result of this film, Jack Black gets offered more serious roles because I think, when given the right character, he can act dramatically.

Shirley MacClaine also was quite powerful in this film without having many lines and a ton of screen time. It appeared all she needed to do was scowl and immediately the audience could feel her wrath permeate the screen. So much in fact then the audience feels for Bernie and all of the responsibility that he has taken on and what occurs as a result.

The story was also a very interesting part of this film because, not only was it true, but it was original. It was told very powerfully, depicting the examples that the towns folk discussed while being interviewed. Despite this character being real, it made him even more so real because the people who actually encountered him on the day-to-day gave their Bernie Tiede anecdotes. However,  I believed that this movie suffered from all the back and forth between the film and the interviews. While they were informative and interesting, they were an aspect of this film that should have been concentrated either in the beginning of the film or at the end of the film.

So, if you want to see Jack Black act in a serious dramatic movie and not just be used for comic relief then watch this movie because it is on Netflix, so you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it.

Now onto the spoilers nitty-gritty part!

So I have to say, from my own educational background, that this movie portrayed  Bernie’s actions quite realistically. Now I understand that the actual Bernie was interviewed for this movie, but still a murder of this kind is unique and should be portrayed as such. Bernie did not plan this murder out previously, rather he was backed into a corner, a very stressful corner, and took what he thought was the only way out. When he was confronted, he confessed to his crime because he knew he did it and most likely wanted to get caught, given where he hid the body. A crime like this occurs quite frequently and has been labeled as cathartic in nature, and when the individual is committing the murder they describe the experience as almost dream-like. This was the case for Bernie and I congratulate Linklater for depicting it so well.

An EXTREMELY LONG and Unexpected Journey

In Movies on January 3, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Let me begin by clarifying my title, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” runs 2 hours and 49 minutes, making it an extremely long movie. So, stay away from the soda while you are sitting through this because you will definitely need to pee and you will definitely miss some amazing scenes. Let me also clarify by saying that although this movie does have an extremely long running time, it does not feel like a long movie. There are very few slow parts and they are dispersed between amazing scenes of action.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Story” is the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson directed this movie as well, and tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, played in his old age by Ian Holm and played by the youthful Martin Freeman in this movie and the two others that will follow, as he travels in the company of  13 dwarves and Gandalf the Grey, reprised by Ian McKellan. The dwarves imare led by Thorin, played by Richard Armitage, who is determined to kill the dragon Smaug, who will be voiced by Benedict Cumberabtch in the other two Hobbit movies, YES!!!, who has taken refuge within the Lonely Mountain that was once the home of the dwarves. At first resistant to the idea of change and leaving his comfortable bed, Bilbo decides to join the dwarves on their quest in order to help them reclaim their home and to be on an adventure. However, because of this simple choice, darkness begins to spread and take shape. Because of this simple choice, Frodo must take his own journey in the Lord of the Rings.

So before I went into the theater, I wasn’t expecting a lot, that is to say I went in very open-minded. When I went to see the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I knew what scenes I wanted to see and what characters I wanted to be developed. I had some of this in mind for the Hobbit, but because this was one book that was being split into three parts, I had no idea what Jackson was going to include and what he was going to add in. Despite this, I wasn’t disappointed. I thought that Jackson exceeded in this film just as much as he did in the others. The cinematography was astounding, including some great all encompassing landscape shots.

Martin Freeman played Bilbo quite well, showing the audience a few of his Martin Freeman quirks while also allowing them to get a glimpse into his nature, his being. Being that I have read the book, I know what Bilbo does and is capable of doing so I am very interested in seeing how Freeman portrays this.

Ian McKellan returning as Gandalf played him just as well he did in the other films. While in this film, the audience gets a glimpse as to the power within Gandalf and also the strained relationship that exists between him and another wizard, which I will talk about in more detail later on in this review. In this film, Gandalf shows the audience his courage as well as his fear, allowing for a much more thorough development of his character.

Richard Armitage portrayed Thorin quite well, giving the audience much more Thorin then existed within the book. This is due in part because Bilbo was the main focus of the book and that the Peter Jackson Hobbit movies are a trilogy. Armitage shows Thorin’s pride, courage, and nearly unforgiving nature during the course of his troop’s journey. Armitage became Thorin son of Thrain, leading his dwarven clan into battle while absconding the help of others, giving the audience, again, a hint of what is to come.

So three great performances by three great actors, stunning cinematography, and a long film that doesn’t feel like it, there isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t see this film. Unless you don’t like fantasy. In that case, you should like fantasy and you should see “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

Now onto the spoilers!

I loved the presence of Saruman,  played by Christopher Lee, before the fall, in this film. Jackson was really separating this film from the book by including Rivendale and the meeting of the wizards and I do not hate him for it, which many fans have. It also explained how Gandalf the Grey became Gandalf the White, because Saruman is no longer in power. I never knew that Saruman was referred to as Saruman the White but due to his little cameo in the movie, I understand it now.

I also loved the butterfly shot and then the eagles swooping in. I adore slow calm shots that occur amidst great scenes of actions and Jackson did the same thing in  the Lord of the Rings. It was another scene alluding to the great power that Gandalf has and will utilize eventually.

Super-pumped about the Necromancer story-line, I am. This part was mentioned briefly within The Hobbit but appears to be a section that will be covered within the next 2 Hobbit movies. I liked how Jackson introduced that and in the same instance foreshadowed the evil that was coming. Great work and looks like a great battle is already building up.

Finally, I have to congratulate Jackson for making the imaginary, real. Rivendale, the caves, the trolls, the orcs, all of it. He used computer generation and stunning landscape shots to take what has been written on page many years ago and make it into reality. I absolutely adored what he did with the New Zealand landscape and I am very much looking forward to what the other two movies bring to the table, especially Cumberbatch.