Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Russian Ark (2002)

You only get one shot

A 19th century French diplomat finds himself in Russia's State Hermitage Museum speaking perfect Russian and not knowing how he got there.  The rest is very interesting, pure cinema at its best.  This groundbreaking film 'one ups' Alfred Hitchcock's Rope by being filmed in one 90 minute take, uninterrupted by edits. 

Filmed in real time with a Steadicam, Russian Ark is nothing short of extraordinary.  Apart from the obvious technical brilliance and skill behind making the film, the things that happen in front of the camera are very impressive as well.  The acting is top notch, the costumes are amazing, and the setting is gorgeous.  This unique film, which could have just been a gimmicky film is truly great.

Russian Ark gets 5 out of 5 stars!

Starring: , ,
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Metacritic: 86%

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

You can't choose your family

The film is a very clear three act presentation of three related threads of the same story.  The connections become clear later in the film, although Derek Cianfrance tips his hand a little making the payoff a bit predictable.  This film starts off really strong, but finishes a bit weakly with the second and third acts lack the power of the first one.  Cianfrance is the man behind Blue Valentine, one of my favorite films of the past few years.

The Place Beyond the Pines gets 3 out of 5 stars!

Writer: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: , ,
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Metacritic: 68%

Friday, March 7, 2014

Movie Review: Pain and Gain (2013)

We want to pump you up

Daniel Lugo, a Miami bodybuilder formulates a plan to get rich.  After recruiting some accomplices, they make a plan.  Unfortunately the plan involves kidnapping and murder, something which none of them are any good at pulling off.  The film is filled with cliches and stereotypes.  It gets old after a while.  And I can't stand Michael Bay.  In spite of all that, this film was well shot, funny, outrageous, and had some really good action sequences.

Pain and Gain gets 2.5 out of 5 stars!

Writer: ,
Starring: , ,
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Metacritic: 45%

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Brother the Devil (2012)

Gangsters, guns, and drugs

Mohammed (Mo) and his brother Rashid (Rash) are the children of Egyptian immigrants living in the London neighborhood of Hackney.  Rashid is part of a street gang which mainly sells drugs.  Mo wants to be a part of that life, but Rash doesn't want him in it.  The director gives us a realistic glimpse into life in the English ghetto, which seems to have taken its cues from the worst parts of American culture.  This film had me hooked from the first five minutes.  It is one of those rare movies that is so well made that I got lost in the story and forgot that the rest of the world existed.  Can't wait to see more from !

My Brother the Devil gets 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Writer: Sally El Hosaini
Starring: , , , (Lost Season 6)
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Metacritic: 72%

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Movie Review: The Way Way Back (2013)

One crazy summer

When Duncan is forced to to spend the summer at the beach with his mom's new boyfriend, things don't look so good.  Duncan manages to salvage his summer by getting a job at a local water park.  This film is funny at some points.  However, the story felt very forced and contrived.  All the loose ends got wrapped up way too easily.  It seems like the filmmakers were trying so hard to make their film attractive to the indie crowd that they didn't bother making the film anything more than amusing.  There are some laugh out loud moments, but  I really didn't care about the characters or what happened to them. The three best things about this film are , Sam Rockwell, and AnnaSophia Robb

The Way Way Back manages to squeak out 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Director: ,
Writer: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring:  Liam James, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Metacritic: 68%

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Movie Review: Upside Down (2012)

Get up for the down stroke

Adam and Eden live on two worlds which are connected yet remain separated.  They fall in love.  Although the idea of the story is in itself pretty fantastic and although the visuals are a real treat, overall the film only manages to achieve mediocrity at best.  The clumsy dialogue and melodramatic performances weigh this film down horribly.  It was actually difficult to believe that the three big names in this film, Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, and Timothy Spall, are the same great actors that I've seen in several other great films (Across the Universe, Melancholia, Harry Potter, etc) In general, big budget sci-fi, and other genre films, are rarely very good since they are often dumbed down for a wider audience. 

Upside Down doesn't know which way is up and only gets 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Starring: , ,
Rotten Tomatoes: 28%
Metacritic: 43%