Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Year: 2001
Director: Jordon Melamed
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Cheadle, Zooey Deschanel

Before the Dark Knight Rises. Before the New Girl. Before (500) Days of Summer.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel were just a couple of 20 year old kids acting in an uncomfortably compelling Indie film about a Juvenile Mental Institution.

Manic (and it's tagline "You Can't Escape Yourself") is about a young man named Lyle (Gordon-Levitt) with extremely violent outbursts who is sent to a mental hospital. I won't say why, for the shocking scenes where his violent erupts are one of the crucial elements that make the movie. There he is forced to interact with fellow patients (one of which is self-mutilator, Tracy (Deschanel)) and attend weekly group sessions led by Dr. Monroe (Cheadle).

This film comments on the real problems of mental illnesses and the impact society has on their condition.

It's dark. It's serious. It's real.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and it was when I added Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel to my favorite actors list. They've been there ever since.

Score: B+

Monday, September 17, 2012


Year: 2009
Director: Max Mayer
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher

I'm back guys! After almost a half of a year of class, work, and overall lack of inspiration I have decided to get back to watching some flicks and sharing them you guys. I want to ease back into it, so I'm going to go with an favorite of mine that shouldn't be too hard to review.

ADAM is just a beautifully crafted movie. It's already apparent I'm a sucker for Indie Romantic Comedies, but I become obsessed if said movie is also original and intelligent.

The film is about a school teacher, Beth Buchwald (Byrne), meets and begins a relationship with a man living in her apartment building. Simple enough right? Well the intriguing, and truly charming, catch is that Adam suffers from Asperger's Syndrome which is a form of Autism. The two characters both partake in a very unfamiliar experiment with their relationship that is shaped and forged throughout the film.

It truly is a wonderful film. The writing is tremendous and the acting is spot on. Dancy's portrayal of someone suffering with Asperger's is captivating.

Score: B+

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Year: 2009
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Heath Ledger, Andrew Garfield, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp, Jude Law

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is pure magic. It's one of those movies where you are so awestruck at the creativity and imagination that you accept and embrace it all. It's full of things you'd never think about outside a weird dream. This movie was a well-acted sugar rush that had depth, drama, and a whimsical quality that perfected the atmosphere.

Briefly, the plot revolves a man, Dr. Parnassus, who along with his daughter have a traveling magic show. Along the way they meet a mysterious stranger (Ledger) and everything explodes from there. Let's just say there are magic mirrors, really giant ladders, and Verne Troyer.

This film is also the last project of Heath Ledger before his death. He actually died during the filming and so in his place stepped in three superstar actors: Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. I know it sounds weird that four people can play the same character, but they pulled it off brilliantly in the film. It was amazing.

Also for you Social Network fans, this was the first major role for Andrew Garfield who was really good in it.

I watched this movie when it came out and didn't watch again until last week, but I'm so glad I did. It's still just a great piece of film. Go see it.

Score: A

Friday, January 27, 2012


Year: 2011
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston

If you go into 50/50 thinking it's just going to be a really funny comedy with slight cancer undertones, I must warn you; you will be disappointed. That doesn't mean, however, the movie is bad. On the contrary, I think the fact that 50/50 was more on the drama (and dark comedy) side really made a more powerful statement than just a typical laugh out loud movie would have.

50/50 is really a heavy subject movie. You do have the cancer topic which is heavy in itself but on top of that you have various subjects that can come with cancer including, inevitably, death as well as relationship strains. It's unfortunate but this movie is very relatable to many people and it is this familiarness that makes for such a striking movie. It's also worth mentioning that 50/50 is loosely based off of the real life story of Will Reiser who was a co-writer on the movie and a good friend of Seth Rogen.

Acting wise it was spot on. I was originally worried about Seth Rogen's part. I love Rogen but in more comedies and was unsure how well he'd do in a more serious movie. So while he did play the comedic relief, which was to be expected, I do think he did a good job transitioning when he needed to. As for Gordon-Levitt...well he was spot on as usual and his dynamics throughout the movie were hauntingly real.

Overall 50/50 is a great move. It may not be the pick me up movie you want after a long and stressful week but it is well worth the watch.

Score: B+

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The First Days Of Spring

Year: 2009
Director: Charlie Fink
Starring: Alex Barker, Alexandra Barker and Richard Franklin

Following up on a similar thematic pattern with my Girl Walk // All Day post with another movie set to song; The First Days of Spring. This time the music is a bit more...fitting I feel for a movie setting although not nearly as the lighthearted mood that Girl Walk // All Day was.

The First Days of Spring is also the name of the album of the same title by Noah and the Whale. Without getting too much into indie music, Noah and the Whale are an indie folk band from England. This movie is just what I described above, a movie set to their second album both entitled The First Days of Spring. As expected this is a fairly short movie at only 45 minutes. It also features very little actual dialogue in favor of open ended personal explanations and perhaps lyrical context.

This tree means something...I just know it.

I have watched this film a few times and I always try and make out what is really going on, as it is actually quite a confusing movie. It follows, what I think, is the same man but at three different points in his life. Teenage years, twenties and then in old age. I take a lot out of this movie and find it to be about true love but also lost love and regrets but also the importance of life itself and whatever life happens to throw your way. It's not necessarily a sad movie but parts of it are very sad but then it is countered with some very jubilant scenes. Some weird parts are thrown in and it is a very...artsy movie I suppose. Scene wise as it cuts between the three different times as well as features old vintage style movie shots and other stylistic shots.

Overall, The First Days of Spring is an interesting visual adaptation and partner to a great band's album and I urge all to watch it as you will take something from it.

Score: B