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

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Texas Killing Fields

Year: 2011
Director:  Ami Canaan Mann
Starring: Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jessica Chastain, Chloe Grace Moretz

Texas Killing Fields is my unofficial "part two" of a Worthington and Chastain film. I came upon this and THE DEBT around the same time and so I decided to review them back to back.

This movie is hard to describe in terms of genre because the genre that it would traditionally be described as would take away from the movie's effectiveness. I suppose I would categorize it as a cop drama, but with way more plot depth than a typical cop drama would be. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Sam Worthington play partners who are trying to solve a murder in their city, Texas City. They are also put into a obligated situation to help out Jessica Chastain (who works for another police department) with her missing persons - turned - homicide case. While the officers try to solve these crimes they are also going through things in their lives separately that dictates their actions and pushes them to certain breaking points.

For the second time in a row, I found myself actually enjoying another Sam Worthington acting job. I'm surprised. In both THE DEBT and this film, he seems to have found what he is good at in acting. He plays a blatant jerk who using violence and aggression to be a great cop. Along with his surprising performance was a solid "good cop" acting job by Jeffrey Dean Morgan who plays mature very well and Jessica Chastain who once again acts her heart out even though her character was not a focal point.

I liked this movie. I liked the pace of the movie and how the slowness of a Texan, Southern city reflected the tone of the movie. The writing was decent, but the plot and the story were powerful and at times disturbing.

Go see this film.

Score: B

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Debt

Year: 2010
Director: John Madden
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson

The Debt was a product of one of my new favorite actresses, Jessica Chastain. I loved her in it, but I also really enjoyed the movie. The Debt is a espionage suspense thriller about three Jewish spies who attempt to kidnap a notorious Nazis surgeon and bring him back to Israel to stand trial for his crimes. The writing was pretty good as well as the directing, but what made the film for me was the acting. Obviously, Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson are great actors but I was most impressed with the aforementioned Jessica Chastain. She was pretty amazing in this film. She beautifully portrayed a young woman faced with capturing a man, alive, who was responsible for the death of so many of her people including her mother. Also I found myself actually liking the performance by Sam Worthington. I'm not a huge fan of his. Even though his movies are good, his acting has never impressed me. In The Debt I was surprised by his performance. I feel he is better suited for a secondary character role where he doesn't have to carry a movie.

The Debt was a pretty good movie. I was entertained throughout and was just in awe of Jessica Chastain. This movie acted it's way to a good review.

Score: B+

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bottle Rocket

Year: 1996
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, James Caan

If you read my review on Submarine you would notice I referred to my love of Wes Anderson quite a lot, so with the announcement of a new Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, I decided to re-watch his films and do some reviews. And what better way to start than with his first film, Bottle Rocket.

This is the movie that started it all. Every distinguishable feature that Anderson employs started in Bottle Rocket and continues onto the rest of his film career. Now some do criticize Anderson for this apparent one dimension (as well as his typically dry sense of humor). I disagree with these claims as it's really just his style and it's a style that while not everyone "gets it", it works and is unique to him.

I will admit though that Bottle Rocket is perhaps one of my lowest rated Anderson Films although it may be tied with The Darjeeling Limited. It does have the typical quirky feel to it which I do love, but I think it's really the cast that gets to me. Own Wilson does good in his part as over enthusiastic and naive wannabe thief. I guess what I'm trying to get at is there was no real visible connection between the rest of the cast. Their respective storylines were great but just no connection to really care about the story as a whole. Luckily, I found the dry humor (my humor in general is pretty dry so guess that's why I appreciate it so much) to be excellent and does have a few scenes I would put at the top of any list.

Bottle Rocket may not be the home run that other Anderson films accomplished but it is a worthy watch if you love Anderson films and just the quirky "indie" (And I use that term sparingly) style that is prominent.

Score: B-

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Girl Walk // All Day

Year: 2011
Director: Jacob Krupnick
Starring: Anne Marsen, Dai Omiya, and John Doyle

Watch Here: Watch the Film

Decided to do something different for todays review. Girl Walk // All Day is essentially a movie length dance music video to Girl Talk's album All Day featuring heavy elements in urban exploration and follows three dancers as they turn New York City's sidewalks and architecture into an evolving stage of joy from music. It was originally broken down into 12 parts and was posted every Tuesday and Friday for the last month. Today was the final part and that is what made me decide to review it in full.

Now I know it is not your typical film if it can even be considered a film in itself. So keep that in mind although I am going to kind of analyze it as such. If you look at it as just a dance music video it is flawless and very, very well done. You have all aspects of it and since it features three dancer perspectives makes for a variety of dance styles. When I first started watching this series I was amazed; All Day is my favorite Girl Talk album and I love huge projects of this caliber. It also got my attention as it seemed there was a loose and mysterious story line to link the three dancers. However this was the biggest but only disappointment I had while watching this movie series.

What I mean by this is the story line was so disjointed. It started out with the story line assumption and then would insert something totally random (like the flower people)... but then continue with this vague story line I had associated with. Then at the end it just ended abruptly without tying together anything other than Anne Marsen's arc.

Overall it's a great and very unique idea. But I guess I was looking for more and tried to get more out of it than just strict entertainment.

Score: B


Year: 2000
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

I'm reviewing Memento  not so much for the acting, but for the amazing writing and directing done by Christopher Nolan. Everyone knows who he his, but many people, unfortunately, only know him for Batman and Inception. I'm here to tell you that before the masterpiece that is Inception, there was the first AWE-mazing movie Memento. It is the perfect cinematic brain punch where you have no idea what's going on throughout most of the movie and you love it. 

 I don't want to give away even a hint of the plot. Instead I want you to just watch the movie. It's a really well put together film and it is so smart. I found myself saying "cool" many times during the film. It's just entertaining. I'm not a huge fan of Guy Pearce as an actor and because of that my rating is not perfect, but luckily amazing script writing and directing saved it. Hey... go see this movie.

Score: B+

Friday, January 6, 2012


Year: 2010
Director: Spencer Susser
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, Natalie Portman and Devin Brochu

If you like dark comedies than Hesher is quite the film for you, although I will warn you it's a bit weird. Actually, I kind of take that back as I've seen much, much weirder films. I guess just different is the word I'm looking for here.

What I mean by this is just the happenings within the movie. First off you have Brochu's character, T.J. who is your typical depressed kid after his mother's death who is getting bullied. He then meets Gordon-Levitt's character, Hesher...a desolate metal head who then just sort of moves in with him, his father and grandmother. The quietness that this all happens with and the acceptance of Hesher just moving in and then the other crazy antics he pulls is astounding. It actually brings me to question the "realness" of the characters and story writing. Something that I've been questioning a lot recently for some reason.
Gordon-Levitt has never looked better
The movie does make up for this pseudo (or real) fakeness but an albeit good story chemistry between Brochu, Gordon-Levitt and finally Portman. The story is then tied in quite well with the heavy subject of death in multiple ways which brings this dark comedy into more drama territory that actually gets a good point across surprisingly.

Score: B-

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Year: 2006
Director: Scott Glosserman
Starring: Nathan Baesel, Robert Englund, Angela Goethals and Kate Lang Johnson

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon takes the typical and cliché horror film slasher flick and flips it upside down. It has all the right ingredients that your normal run of the mill "scary" movie has but then adds it's own special ingredient.

If you haven't heard of this movie I do urge you to go out and rent it or Netflix it, especially if you are a fan of the genre as it will take you by surprise. Without giving too much away I will give a brief summary to peak some interest. First off it is filmed in mockumentary style which is a style that has grown in popularity recently with the rise of the Paranormal Activity franchise although probably popularized by The Blair Witch Project in 1999. I do quite like this filmography style for this genre as it gives a more realistic setting. Anyways, so the story is this group of grad school film students (I assume) are doing a documentary on this man named Leslie Vernon who is publicly planning to scare a group of unknowing teenagers. However, it turns out he is really planning on killing them all.

This movie actively embraces any horror film clichés and stereotypes that exist and formulates them until they are actually the lifeblood of this movie. I mean right off the back the great slasher films like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees of their respective series exist in real life in this universe. Also, the character of Leslie Vernon literally explains in detail (and quite humorously) every known cliché and why they do what they do. Really gives an interesting and unique look a la "Behind the Mask" that I now find myself analyzing every other horror film I watch now.

So if you consider yourself a fan of the genre you would be doing yourself a disservice by not watching this film as it essentially is everything you know and love rolled into one.

Score: B

Sucker Punch

Year: 2011
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish

Sucker Punch was everything I expected it to be. But then again I didn't expect much. I wasn't looking for amazing acting, writing, or directing. I was completely void of all my typical movie critiques because I knew what I was about to watch. A lot of movies fool the audience into believing it is so much deeper than it is causing them to become detached instantly when it isn't and ultimately killing their chances of becoming successful. Sucker Punch did not try to be anything more than what it was. It was beautiful girls, intense action, and well done CGI.

The story is about a girl (Browning) who is put into an insane asylum  where the warden runs a brothel using his ridiculously attractive patients. The movie swerves in and out of reality as she deals with her time in the asylum. I've always been a huge fan of Emily Browning and her acting chops. She really acted well in this film even though she didn't have to at all. She was a big reason I enjoyed this film.

Sucker Punch is entertaining at best. That's why I watched it and that's why I enjoyed it. If you expect too much from certain films they'll have a tendency to let you down. Don't expect too much and you'll enjoy this movie.

Score: C+