Tag Archives: Enemy

Best Movies of 2014

It has been quite a while since I posted anything on here. The last few months have been rather hectic. From school to work, I couldn’t find time to write reviews or continually post on this site. That doesn’t mean I didn’t see any movies since then. In fact I’ve seen most of the movies you could have seen, except the noticeably bad films released in the last few months.

A lot of movies that I really liked didn’t make my list and even with such a great summer with some impressive blockbuster, it was hard to keep some off my list.  The top three films where difficult because the could be interchangeable at any time.

There were some very welcome movies and also very disappointing movies that I was looking forward to. Making this list was rather difficult but I feel that it is a rather well constructed list.

10. Boyhood

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By the time I reached number 10, I realized that I didn’t include one of the best reviewed movies of the year. Everyone seems to be putting this at the top of their lists and I can’t deny that it is one of the best constructed movies of the year and a masterpiece, in my opinion. The story is timeless, the editing seamless, and the directing is top notch. The 12 years used to make this movie sets it apart from other movies of this caliber. Why is it at the bottom? When it comes to my list I put movies on it that I would rewatch in a heartbeat. After thinking about it, I haven’t really had the urge to watch Boyhood again. Now matter how impressive the movie may be, I never thought about watching it again.

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Early on in the year, I believed that no movie could top this movie. To my surprise this year has been a fantastic year for film. This movie combines everything I love about Wes Anderson. The aesthetic of the film is amazing, while Monsieur Gustave H. is by far the most fascinating character in Anderson’s filmography. The changing aspect ratios was another amazing addition to the movie. This isn’t my favorite of his film but it is certainly one of his greatest achievements.

8. Gone Girl

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David Fincher is one of my favorite directors working today. He always brings something new to an aged formula. That is one of the reasons that make Gone Girl so unique. Instead of having the major twists saved for the end, the movie decides to reveal it at the end of the first act. It is an intriguing factor that I give both Gillian Flynn and David Fincher for pulling it off so well. What makes this movie even more fascinating is the commentary on both marriage and the media. Everything about this movie is nearly perfect. Rosamund Pick proves her acting chops and even Tyler Perry was able to surprise me, for the first time in his career. Even if I like other of Fincher’s films more, I do think this is a great addition to his impressive filmography.

7. Locke

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No other movie this has done more with less. So much goes on during the course of the runtime, that it is surprising that it was only 80 minutes long. Tom Hardy has impressed me lately. He is a powerhouse of an actor and he really shines as Ivan Locke. Throughout the movie more and more is revealed and it makes you question both his choices and reasons behind them. For a movie that takes place solely in one location, I couldn’t believe how much and how well they were able to pull it off.

6. Under the Skin

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I always thought that Scarlett Johansson was all looks and not really a good actor. I was proven wrong when I saw her in Under the Skin. The movies unique approach is impressive and the minimalistic style makes for a haunting and exhilarating experience. It asks questions that movies typically don’t ask. It asks what it is meant to be human but it doesn’t give you all the answers. The visuals are impressive and the score creates a chilling yet unique.

5. Filth

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I don’t know why I loved this movie so much, it was just so damn fun. James McAvoy is like you’ve never seen him before. He plays the vile and disgusting character so well. The movie isn’t so much about plot but more about how insane his characters become over time. Often times the movie is hilarious but also very sad and depressing. You never truly sympathize with him, you mostly fell bad for him. The ending is so damn perfect for the movie and completely ends the film in a satisfying manner.

4. Interstellar 

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Christopher Nolan is one of the best blockbuster directors working today. He is able to make the movies that he wants and is able to create some impressive films. His visual eye is incredible. He may have some problems with female characters but this is the first time that I feel he has created some worthwhile female characters. This movie isn’t about space travel as much as it is about love, loss, and fatherhood. There are so many perfect scenes of action but it is the little scenes that Nolan was able to impress me. This is by far his most emotional film to date. You feel the stakes at hand and really sympathize with each character, except for one. Interstellar impressed me both visually and emotionally.

3. Whiplash

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I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. I never really liked Miles Teller and a movie about a jazz drummer didn’t make me want to see it. Once I saw the trailer, that changed. The final product is so intense and awe inspiring that I loved it the minute I walked out. J.K. Simmons gives one of the best performances of the year, he is volatile and intense but somehow relatable. Even Miles Teller impressed me. The final ten minutes had me at the edge of my seat and is incredibly satisfying after all that happens in the movie.

2. Nightcrawler

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This was one movie that surprised the hell out of me. The movie created a character that is both psychotic and wise. He is a man who know what he wants and takes it, no matter what. Jake Gyllenhaal gives the performance of his life. The story is always surprising and you don’t know where it is going to go in the end. The commentary behind this movie is strong and very out there but it works so well. The directing is perfect and the cinematography is breathtaking. More than anything this is a character study and it showcases a character that is completely original and is also a work of genius.

1. Birman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

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The most surprising and delightful movie of the year goes to Birdman. Alejandro González Iñárritu created such a fascinating experience. He one of the best dramatic directors working today. He is able to get the best performances out of some of the most unexpected actors. Every actor in this movie are going the extra mile. Michael Keaton is revolutionary. He essentially playing a warped version of himself and he convinces everyone that he still does matter. What sets this movie apart from any other film this year is the fact that it is manipulated to look like one take. It is a technical revolution and is impressive in it’s cinematography. A lot had to go into this movie to achieve this feat and boy does it achieve it. There is also a lot of commentary involving the state of hollywood today, critics, and the will to matter. I loved this movie and think it is the best made movie this year.

Honorable Mentions

Edge of TomorrowAn original and fun blockbuster. Not your typical blockbuster but it breaks the model and makes something unique.

EnemyAn interesting and intelligent thriller that leaves you asking question long after it’s over.

Guardians of the GalaxyA very different Marvel movie and really shows that they can make an interesting movie out of unknown characters.

The RoverFueled by amazing performances and a simplistic story. This movie creates a landscape fully developed and tension that is equally fascinating and grim.

Blue RuinA movie that came out of nowhere and managed to create a fascinating and personal portrayal of revenge.

 

 

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The Double Review, A Visually Stunning Mess

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The Double

Directed by: Richard Ayoade

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige, and James Fox

Richard Ayoade managed to surprise me with his directorial debut Submarine, so naturally I was excited to see what else he could do as a director. Submarine appealed to me based on my love of Wes Anderson, he is clearly had an influence on this film and it can tell. Although I couldn’t get it out of my mind while watching it, I still found a lot to like about the movie. Now The Double feels like another directors work, Terry Gilliam. Throughout the movie I noticed the parallels it had to movies like Brazil and 12 Monkeys. This really made me realize that Richard Ayoade is seriously lacking a style of his own. His movies feel anything but his own. He may be able to direct his actors well and control the camera well but he seriously needs to develop his own style of filmmaking instead of purely homaging other directors work.

Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) sits alone in a completely deserted subway car. He clenches his briefcase to his chest and waiting to arrive at work. An unknown man approaches him and tells him that he is sitting in his seat. Simon looks around and eventually he moves for the man. This shows us just how timid he is and really shows the audience the kind of person he truly is. Even if there is other empty seats on the train he lacks the courage to tell the man to sit somewhere else. He arrives at work only to get his briefcase stuck in the doors of the train causing him to lose it. He arrives at his work only to get declined access. He can’t help but messing up. He goes unnoticed by his peers and the girl he is infatuated with.  We get a good sense of who he is in a span of 10 minutes and that’s one of the film’s strengths.

We soon meet the girl of Simon’s affection, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), a lonely girl who works in the copy room. He always goes to visit the copy room but never has the courage to ask her out. It is not till a night when a man kills himself in the courtyard in the apartment complex that Hannah and Simon share. Distraught the two end up having dinner together and start to realize that they have a lot in common. A few days later we are introduced to James Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) a lookalike of Simon James who begins working at his job. Not long later he begins to usurp Simon and becoming a formidable force at his job and soon the same thing begins to happen to his life. He begins to go down the dark path of not knowing the difference between reality and what is in his head.

I really enjoy what Richard Ayoade brought to the screen with The Double and even more so with Submarine. The biggest problem with The Double is the story. Based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short “The Double” it tells the story of two doppelgängers battling it out in dystopian like future, which isn’t quite explained. Nothing is truly compelling about the story itself. It was a rather repetitive shallow story about a man losing his life to a “different” person. Simon would interact with James pleasantly in one scene and in the next he is at his throat, it is just a repeat of the same formula. This happens throughout the entire movie, up to the very expected ending that shows just how unimaginative the story actually is. There is not true depth to the story at hand and if you really want to look into it the entire movie is revealed within the first 20 minutes. With Enemy it left it a mystery while on the other hand The Double gives you too much information.

Some believe this to be a comedy, just like Calvary, but I don’t think I found a single humorous moment. I’m not sure why it is being claimed as one but if that is what people are taking away from this movie that it is fine.

Were the story lacks the technical side of the film is amazing. Even though Jesse Eisenberg is able to convincingly play two different characters. He is both timid and mesmerizing. Richard Ayoade is very competent when it comes to directing actors, I don’t think there was a single dull performance. Given that Ayoade is also a very good comedian and I think it helps his directing and the talent that he brings behind the camera.

Even if I feel that the style of the movie is not his own I do still like the style that was brought to the film. The sense of dread and melancholy is shown very well with the sets and cinematography. One of the highlights of the film is the style. Brazil was a heavy influence on the film stylistically and did add to the film. I only wish that Ayoade would pick a certain style and stick with it.

Though it appears that I don’t like the movie that much given the content of the review I did actually enjoy myself watching it. It has its fair share of problems and I feel the hype for this movie really doesn’t pay off in the end.

Grade: C

Enemy Review A Mesmerizing Psychological Thriller

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Enemy

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Jake GyllenhaalMélanie LaurentSarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini

Enemy asks the question “What would you do if you meet a person who looked exactly like you?” While it asks the question it doesn’t exactly answer it. It lets you think for yourself and answer the question yourself. I’ll admit that it is a little too vague sometimes but I found myself trying to answer all the mysterious elements that this film contains. Another movie came out this year that dealt with a similar concept, The Double, but never really asked the questions one would think a film like this would. I find the movie to be utterly fascinating but a little alienating towards it’s audience.

The film opens up with a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) sitting in a dimly lit club with men all around him. The man is watching an erotic dance, of sorts. Naked woman dance on stage which ends with one dancer crushing a spider with her heel. We cut to a pregnant woman laying alone in bed.

We are then introduced to Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) teaching a group of students about dictatorships and how they have come to be. He then goes back to his apartment, makes dinner, grades papers, and then has sex with his girlfriend before going to bed and repeating this routine day in and day out.

One day at lunch, Adam is talking to one of his coworkers and he recommends Adam check out a movie called ‘Where There’s a Will There’s a Way’. That night Adam can’t sleep, so out of curiosity he pops the movie into his computer and begins watching it. After finishing it he notices that one of the actors looks exactly like him. From this point out he becomes obsessed with finding out his identity and why they look alike. This leads Adam down a path that he will not be able to come back from.

The true power of this film is that it doesn’t reveal to much. It gives you the perfect amount of information and lets you decide what it means. A common motif of this movie is the use of spiders. There are plenty of scenes within Adam’s dreams and every time there is some sort of reference to spiders, whether it is a giant arachnid walking across the city scape or a woman with the head of a spider walking upside down. There have been many interpretations of this film so far. An interpretation that I read earlier states the movie is about something more sinister than anything I could have come up with. Some believe that the movie is about a dictatorship that is secretly run alien arachnids. Now that seems a little out there.

I can understand the idea that the movie is about a dictatorship and that no one really realizes that they are living in a fascist regime. It is completely plausible given the lectures that Adam gives during the movie. What I feel the movie was about was an identity crisis with this man Adam. One of the things that spider signify in dreams is a want to distance yourself from alluring and tempting situations. Throughout the movie Adam is having a relationship with Mary (Mélanie Laurent). In my opinion Adam and Anthony are the same exact person and, as a coping mechanism, Adam created an entire different personality so that he doesn’t feel guilty about cheating on his wife. This movie is completely complex and it knows that. You can dig deep and look into the film that you can’t for most movies and that what I like about the film. It takes a concept that is rather simply and easy but makes it much more than that.

All around it is a solid movie with subtly intense performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. The entire movie rests on his shoulders and he hits it out of the park. He plays both characters differently and makes them their own but also gives the movie its life. Sadly the other two main actors don’t do much but then again they aren’t given much to do. With what Sarah Gadon is given she does a great job as the pregnant wife of Anthony but in the end she isn’t that well developed.

Mind you the story isn’t that great. It is just about a man in search for answer and that’s all it is meant to be. There isn’t a big story arch or distinct acts but that is the power of the film. It lets the story evolve with the character instead of the other way around. Meanwhile the style of the film is one of the strengths. It makes the city of Toronto feel like this alien place.

The movie does a lot right but it may alienate the audience with it’s mystery and lack of answers. It is a difficult watch but absolutely worth the ride if it is the kind of movies you enjoy.

Grade: A-

Nightcrawler Trailer

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Here is another film that is set to make it’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t a stranger of the festival as of late, both Prisoners and Enemy premiered there last year to praise for both of his performances and the vision of the director Denis Villeneuve. Nightcrawler seems to be banking on the very weird style and interesting storyline. I don’t expect this to be an award contender but it is certainly one of my most anticipated films of the year.

Lou Bloom, a driven young man who discovers the nocturnal world of L.A. crime journalism. Joining a group of freelance camera crews who film marketable mayhem, Lou makes his own place at the table, aided by Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news. Blurring the line between observer and perpetrator, Lou finds his calling in a murderous world reduced to transactions.

Directed by Dan Gilroy. Starring Jake GyllenhaalBill PaxtonRene RussoRiz AhmedEric Lange, and Jonny Coyne. Produced by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tony Gilroy and distributed by Open Roads Production.