Tag Archives: Spiders

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

image2resize

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

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL_426.jpg

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

GONE-GIRL-Movie-HD-Trailer-Captures00004_1_1

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

ct-cth-locke-l-fp-r4-050613-un-jpg-20140501

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

Under_the_Skin_23

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

Filth-James-McAvoy

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 

Interstellar astronauts explore new planet

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

tumblr_n9fdfk11dt1ts6gi0o3_1280-new-york-film-festival-2014-whiplash-movie-review

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

nightcrawler review

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)

_AF_6405.CR2

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Enemy Review A Mesmerizing Psychological Thriller

enemy-poster

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-

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review, A Bad Sequel to a Bad Remake

the-amazing-spider-man-2-spidey-poster

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, and Sally Field

It was a strange decision to hire an unexperienced director, such as Marc Webb, to direct a movie completely outside his wheel house. 500 Days of Summer is a well-built relationship drama, it was a completely different interpretation of the typical relationship cliches. The major thing that Marc Webb was able to bring to the The Amazing Spider-Man was his sense for people and the relationship between characters. Outside of the relationship stuff between Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) the first movie isn’t all that good. Whereas the original trilogy nailed Spider-Man perfectly but failed to make the chemistry between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) completely unrealistic and kinda fake. On the other hand The Amazing Spider-Man nailed Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey’s chemistry it fails to make the villains and the core story interesting and really ruins this series.

The movie begins with one of the only scenes in the movie that alludes to the mystery behind Peter Parker’s parents. After leaving Peter (Andrew Garfield) with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) and his wife Mary Parker (Embeth Davidtz) try to escape on a plane while uploading Richard’s research. Little did they know that the pilot has been killed and their lives were in jeopardy. Richard does his best to stop the kill only to meet his fate but not before finishing the upload. The plane crashes and then it cuts to Spider-Man chasing down Aleksei  Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), in his worst acted role. During the chase he saves loner scientist Max Dillion (Jamie Foxx).

Meanwhile Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) is at their high school graduation. Concerned, Gwen calls Peter and tells him to get back to graduation. His duties to Spider-Man makes him late but only barely.  Max Dillion, after being saved by the web slinger, begins obsessing of the superhero and wants to get noticed just like Spider-Man does. He is ignored at work and then stuck working late in a lab that he doesn’t know. This leads him to getting zapped by the power cable that was causing all the problems. He then falls into a vat of eel, you know electric eel because why not, effectively killing him. He is resurrected by the electricity that he consumed. He leaves to find a power source that can recharge him. He arrives in Time Square and start causing havoc, leading to Spider-Man showing up. He begins trying to reason with him only to realize that Spider-Man has forgotten who he was. This leads Max to go crazy and leads him to want the fame that Spider-Man has and to get that “fame” he needs to kill Spider-Man

Over at Oscorp Industries, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns to take control of the company that his father started. He is mad at the way he was treated by his father, leading to him changing some of the policies that his father emplaced.  Harry learns that he has the same disease that his father has and realizes that he is starting to develop the same symptoms. This leads him on a quest to find Spider-Man and harvest his blood for his own needs. He eventually teams up with Electro to take down Spider-Man and fulfill their needs to use Spider -Man for their own good.

The story is the biggest problem that this movie suffers. It’s convoluted and doesn’t do anything new or note worthy. Harry Osborn is one note and is essentially a carbon copy of Willem DaFoe’s portrayal of Norman Osborn in the first Spider-Man. His characters evolution is exactly the same. He runs the company only to get fired from the company because he was framed. This causes him to go crazy and gets superpowers from another Oscorp experiment. It is the same evolution of the villain except condensed into 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. Electro is another problem here. His motivations are terrible. He is essentially a Spider-Man stalker who gets superpowers. There is nothing interesting about him and barely does anything to help the story. Just like the first Amazing Spider-Man, this movie promises to reveal more about the story of Richard Parker but only two scenes are dedicated to this plot point and it feels like they don’t know what to do with the material.

I gotta admit that Marc Webb handles the romance material really well. The majority of the story focuses on Gwen and Peter’s relationship, building it up so that you can get more invested in the final payoff of the film. It bogs down an already convoluted and frustrating storyline. It is an interesting look at their relationship but spending the majority of the time on it feels a bit overkill.

The action that accompanies the movie is thrilling and well done but it is so sparse and limited that it doesn’t do anything to save the movie. In the end, Electro’s plan is to steal power from the power plant running the city. His overarching plan for this is so that everyone will notice who he is. Electro isn’t given anything to do but his action scenes are well thought out.

The performances are all across the board. You have some really good performance and then absolutely terrible ones. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have this radiant chemistry that makes the relationships believable. Garfield uses his wit and humor to portray Peter Parker as a typical wallflower kid of his generation. Tobey Maguire always felt old in the role and his chemistry with Kirsten Dunst was a little off. On the other hand the Jaime Foxx was the only actor portraying a villain that actually tried in his role, sadly it was incredible under written. Dane DeHaan, who I usually like, was bland and unnecessary. The limited screen time of Paul Giamatti was a blessing because his corny portrayal of The Rhino was grating and really angered me. As bad as Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans) was as a villain, he looks good compared to these characters.

There were some fun qualities in this movie but all the bad things out stay their welcome and really mess up any potential that this movie had.

Grade: D