Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I had been meaning to see this film for a while. I was really pumped when I heard it was going to come to the theatre I was working at, but alas I moved home a week or two shy of them getting it. I mean come on what can go wrong Sam Rockwell playing two different versions of the same character and a hard science fiction script and direction from the space oddity himself's (David Bowie) son Duncan Jones.
Moon is not your typical science fiction film ... but thats a good thing! Most science fiction films these days aren't really anything worth watching (they generally border on action films in that they are poorly written, produced, and acted). Considering the fact that Moon was made on a 5 million dollar budget is astounding! Most films (even terrible ones) are made with budgets that easily triple and quadruple that figure. For example, the new Sandra Bullock movie which is a completely straightforward drama about a big kid from a troubled home that plays football cost 30 million dollars to make!
Moons story in a nutshell is about Sam Rockwells as Sam Bell and his last two weeks in a base on the moon while mining for a new energy source (Helium 3). Mind you he has lived on this base two weeks shy of three years! He also has a wife and a daughter back on earth! Everything seems to be going smoothly, but certain events occur and Sam Bell begins to lose it once he saves a person that looks identical to him from a crashed moon rover ... and thats just the beginning of the movie! Kevin Spaceys voice for the robot Gerty is also a really great contribution to the film and perhaps a homage to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Back to the budget here, 5 million dollars went such a long way with this film. The landscapes of the moon are breathtaking. The entire film was shot on a soundstage and I have no idea how they pulled this off. You get to see Sam Bell do moon skips on the surface of the planet, huge moon rovers driving around and knocking up debris, and the oh so intimidating Helium 3 harvesting machine. This really makes me question where all of the money goes in these big Hollywood productions? The special effects for the moon are great, the acting is top notch, the score is fantastic ... and it cost 2/3rd's the cost of an average Hollywood drama!
I also just downloaded the fantastic score soundtrack composed by Clint Mansell. I must admit the score is a rarity these days in that I really enjoy going through the whole thing and just enjoying the beauty of the music. This is a first in a while (for new scores that is) besides Johnny Marrs score for There Will Be Blood.
Overall, Moon is a complete knockout. It's pretty much the best movie that I have seen that was released in 2009. I will be extremely annoyed if this movie is overlooked come awards season (Golden Globes and especially Academy Awards since there are now 10 best picture nominees). I give Moon my utmost approval with a 10/10.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Two days ago I saw Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are. Granted I havent been to the theater alot since I moved back to NJ (no more free movies! and also another reason why I havent touched this blog in months), but I was willing to drop down the $10.50 it cost at my local theater to see it. I have always been a big fan of Spike Jonze whether it be The Beastie Boys "Sabatoge" music video to "Being John Malkovich" to my favorite film of his "Adaptation"(one of the only movies that Nicholas Cage has ever been good in), and one of the all time best skate videos "YEAH RIGHT!".
This is the most beautifully filmed movie i have seen so far this year. Jonze had a vision and I think he succeded in every way possible. He took Maurice Sendacks landmark childrens book and turned it into something better than the source material. With giant live action wild things that are like three or four times the size of a muppet and even more gigantic sets I feel like Spike went all out on this one. The landscapes are breathtaking, the characters were all complex and on different levels from eachother, the mood is dark and not really something that kids would enjoy (which I found out the hard way by sitting in a theater full of crying and screaming babies!). The soundtrack from Karen O and the Kids is also fantastic (check out "Capsize" its pretty sweet).
Overall, I found this to be a profound movie and I would recomend it to anyone who can appreciate the childrens book, Spike Jonzes directing, great cinematography, and a beautiful story. But due to the extremely annoying children in the audience, and a pace that dragged down the story at times I give the film an 8/10. I am sure that after a few more viewings (especially without babies in them) I will appreciate the movie alot more.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Recently I have been watching a lot of the sub genre film noir. Basically film noir involves certain lighting techniques, but the term also encompases dark subject matters with crime and gangsters, private detectives etc. The past two films that I have watched have been "Le Cercle Rouge" and "Blast of Silence". Both films are well made under their circumstances. "Le Cercle Rouge" is a high caliber French heist film with a great script, actors, cinematography, and soundtrack. Written and Directed by one of the masters of the French New Wave Jean Pierre Melville his style and genius shines throughout the film. The characters in it are cooler than cool particularly Alain Delon as Corey. Another great performance comes from Gian Maria Volonte, who played the major villians in the first two Man With No Name films (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More). The theme of everyone coming together in "The Red Circle" (Le Cercle Rouge) by chance more than once is an amusing concept. "Blast of Silence" on the other hand obviously deals with a lower budget but was written, directed, and acted by Allen Baron. For 1961 this film is very impressive. The story is very dark for its time and their is a really great jazz soundtrack. The setting of Harlem is also quite stunning to see in all of its 1960's glory. Allen Baron really delivers on all three major levels in this film ... it is not one to miss for film noir fans!
Monday, March 9, 2009
I just saw Taken last night and it was great! What a breath of fresh air after all of these overly serious dramatic films released this Oscar season (although most are very good and worth watching). Taken stars Liam Neeson in what I believe is his first major role in an action film. But seeing the film you would think he has been an amazing action star his whole career. Taken is directed by Pierre Morel of District B13 previously. Essentially he makes films because he is a talented director but he is also very good friends with the writer of the film Luc Besson, who is an outstanding and pretty well known French director of films such as La Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional. The action is unstopping and relentless and you are rooting for Liam Neesons character Bryan all the way on his search for his daughter. Sure the plot has some holes and its pretty far fetched in general but this movie hasn't been made to pull at your heart strings like The Reader its made to blow your fucking brains out!(and that is exactly what Liam Neeson does to a couple hundred people). There is a well directed chase sequence through a construction site, some really great firefights, and outstanding hand to hand combat. But again I will warn you that this movies plot is nothing new or special, but the action and Liam Neesons performance make it worth watching at least twice. I watched it for the second time today after I downloaded the Extended Harder Cut which European countries gave an R rating over the U.S. cut which is PG-13. It really just adds to the action and is more violent but only clocks in at about 3 extra minutes of footage spread out over quite a few scenes.
Overall, I would probably give this movie a 7/10 if I rated it on a normal scale ... but since it is an action film that I feel quiet strongly about and entertained me to the highest level I give Taken a 9/10.
The Oscars were absolutely terrible this year! What is the Academy thinking? Slumdog Millionaire is easily one of the most overrated films of the year and it swept all of the major awards. Sean Penn (who is great) won best actor for Milk (which he deserved) but I was really rooting for Mickey Rourke. It was nice too see that he summed up his acceptance speech with a shout out of Mickey. Wolverine as the host was alright, the only thing I really laughed at was the song for The Reader. Probably the best part of the night was the Judd Apatow produced short starring Seth Rogen and James Franco which was pretty funny. Hopefully next years Oscars will be better.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Oh my god am I glad to see this years Oscar Nominations. The Dark Knight was completely snubbed, which I think it should have been because it is not an Academy worthy film. The Reader picked up a couple of nominations (which is good), but I was surprised by the lack of nominations for Doubt and The Wrestler. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button picked up I believe somewhere around 13 nominations which is exciting, because perhaps David Fincher will finally get the recognition he deserves, atlhough it was not his best film. I will be tuning in this year as I do every year and hopefully Slumdog Millionaire will not sweep the awards.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
So I finally got around to seeing Zodiac. This is a film that I blindly purchased when it was on sale about 6 months ago and never had the time to invest in it (considering it is 157 mins. long). All I can say is that while I was watching this film I was in pure awe. From the production design, to the great cast, to the amazing story that is actually true, and the screenplay that comes from the main characters actual book and account of the events. Zodiac is a film experience, and to be perfectly honest with you I think it is David Fincher's best film. This is hard for me to say since I am a big fan of David Fincher and love most of his films and consider them modern classics (Se7en, The Game, Fight Club).
Jack Gyllenhall is fantastic as the main character Robert Graysmith. He is a cartoonist for the San Fransisco Chronicle and once the letters from the Zodiac start rolling in he slowly becomes obsessed with the case. Likewise, an outstanding Robert Downey Jr. who is a reporter for the San Fransisco Chronicle becomes obsessed with the case but through substance abuse fades out of his job and his passion for the case. The last main character Inspector David Toschi, is also very well acted by Mark Ruffalo. The way these three characters indivdually handle the case is a great character study and insight into three professionals lives.
The film also has a great soundtrack. It is very fitting for the time period being mainly from 1968 to about ten years later in 1978. Also, for its era the production design is outstanding. From the clothing, to the cars, to the buildings, it is all a very interesting look at the era and it really brings you into the story. If you have read my previous reviews for films particularily Revolutionary Road you know I am a sucker for production design and David Fincher scores big points here.
Overall, If a film approaches 3 hours and keeps me completely sucked in the entire time it counts as one of the greater films I have ever seen, and over time will probably become a favorite of mine.
My score for this film 10/10
Sunday, January 11, 2009
This has been the first year that I have ever bothered watching the Golden Globes. I think that for the most part they are nowhere near as important as the Oscars. But for my first time I was pleased with most of the awards that were given out. Especially Mickey Rourke's win for Best Actor in The Wrestler along with Bruce Springsteen's win for the song "The Wrestler". I was also pleased with Kate Winslet's win for Best Actress in Revolutionary Road, but was not pleased with Slumdog Millionaire sweeping the shows awards because looking back I feel Revolutionary Road and Doubt were more realistic and better films overall. Heath Ledger won Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Dark Knight, although I feel that if he was still alive it would have gone to Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt (which he totally deserved). Anyways, now I am pumped for the Oscars and hopefully this time around Doubt and Revolutionary Road will be larger contenders.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
So tonight I saw Clint Eastwood's new film Gran Torino for the first time in theatres. I previously saw a bootleg screener copy of it and watched it on my computer feeling so so about it. Now that I have seen it on the big screen I feel a little different about it. I still feel that Tao the young Asian boys acting was poor/over the top in some cases, and really ruined some scenes for me. I also did not enjoy the ending on the first time around but after this last viewing I have grown to except it. Eastwood at 78 years old is still a powerhouse in the film industry, pumping out two films this year (Gran Torino and one of my favorites of the year Changeling). I have to give him props for being so involved in his productions on every level and just being shy of 80 years old. He still puts out films that are better than most at an age that most people are out of commission. So overall, Gran Torino has a great performance from Eastwood, and some memorable scenes and themes.
My rating for this film 7/10
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I am pretty sure that my friend Will (probably the biggest film nerd other than myself that I know) is coming over to my apartment in a little bit. When he comes over we are probably going to watch a movie. Right now I'm thinking we should watch a Clint Eastwood film. Why, you ask? Because Clint Eastwood is the biggest badass to have ever been in modern American film! His facial expressions, line delivery, classic smirk make for a great American film. "Now I know what you thinking ... Did he shoot six shots or only five? Well, you've gotta be asking yourself ... Do I feel lucky? ... Well do ya punk?" That is one of the most iconic lines from any American film and it comes from Dirty Harry, the film that was Eastwoods major American breakthrough role, although he was widely known at the time for the Man With No Name Trilogy. So I figure when Will comes over I might have to pop in "Dirty Harry/Magnum Force/The Enforcer/Sudden Impact/The Dead Pool" on Blu-Ray from my Dirty Harry Ultimate Collectors Edition (which by the way is the best Blu-Ray collection available besides Blade Runner Five Disc Complete Collectors Edition and The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration). I think everyone should watch a Dirty Harry movie every once in a while ...
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
So I just got off of a double at work and my plans bailed on me. But thank the gods because my copy of John Carpenter's The Thing has arrived on Blu-Ray at my doorstep. I cannot rave enough about this film. It seems like John Carpenter could have saved his career if he just kept Kurt Russell in his films. I mean come on Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Thing are all really great campy, fun, and are all pretty much on my guilty pleasures list. Scratch that I don't even feel guilty for liking these movies because they are great. The Thing also has an amazing soundtrack by none other than Ennio Moricone (the composer of the Man With No Name trilogy's soundtrack), and great special effects for its time.
My rating for this film 10/10
Monday, January 5, 2009
I have decided that Sam Mendes is one of the greatest living directors just after watching Revolutionary Road. With his past films being American Beauty, Road to Perdition, and Jarhead. In my opinion he has never made a bad film. He gets great performances out of his actors and Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet really shine in this film. Another great touch is the addition of Michael Shannon to the cast who plays a minor role as the realators son John Givings, but really steals the show. The story is a heartbreaking one about a young family whose parents feel trapped in a life that they never intended to live. This is the subject matter Mendes knows best. I mean after all he swept the Oscars with a similar theme in American Beauty. But unlike American Beauty this film deals with a different era, with a different set of morals which complicates the characters lives more than the previous film. The tension builds throughout the film with great character studies between Frank (DiCaprio) and April Wheeler (Winslet).
That being said the production design in the film is absolutely wonderful. You really feel like you are in 1950's Connecticut and Manhattan. The effort that is involved in producing period pieces always amazes me, but this film in particular has a look to it that I can only recall seeing on the T.V. show Mad Men. Whether its the cars, the houses, the clothing, the furniture, and even the kitchenware, its all been tediously recreated and really gets you involved in the time period. But Sam Mendes is no stranger to the period piece and succeeded in reproducing the 1930's just as well in Road to Perditon. Along with some great screenwriting, directing, and a moving soundtrack, all I can say is that this is going to be one of the better movies to come out this year. Check it out when it gets a wide release on my birthday January 23rd!
My rating for this film 9/10
So tonight I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and I think it is fair to say that I have seen every major or important film released in 2008. It is hard to come up with a top ten list so I figure I'll go for a cop out and come up with fifteen. I have thought about it really hard and here it is!
15. The Wackness
14. The Fall
13. Burn After Reading
12. Happy Go Lucky
10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
9. Synecdoche, New York
7. Tell No One
6. I've Loved You So Long
5. The Dark Knight
4. Let the Right One In
2. Slumdog Millionaire
1. The Wrestler
These are the best movies that were released this past year or so I think. The list is in no specific order, but if I had to pick a favorite I would say it was The Wrestler for its realistic portrayal of a washed up professional wrestler in a great performance by Mickey Rourke (pictured above).
Sunday, January 4, 2009
This is my first post on hopefully what will become my thriving film blog. I have never blogged before, but hopefully I will put my film insight on here and people will start to check it out. I am also in the process of developing some short films and I will get those up as soon as possible!