Category Archives: Review

Love & Mercy (2015) Movie Review: Pickin’ Up Good Vibrations

love and mercy poster

Love & Mercy (2015)
Director: Bill Pohlad
Cast: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti

Each year there’s a bunch of biopics vying for your attention. Some like Straight Outta Compton and Steve Jobs generated quite a bit of buzz. Love & Mercy about the Beach Boy’s Brian Wilson was also very well received, though the movie’s release was quieter.

The most striking choice director Bill Pohlad makes is in casting two very different actors to respectively play the young and older Brian Wilson. Surprisingly it’s not as jarring as I would have imagined. This choice helped to immediately differentiate between the two eras as the film cut back and forth in time. Love & Mercy is factual based but it’s more concerned with what’s going on inside Wilson’s head than what his facial features look like.  

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How the Walkway Scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens could have been better (even if you love the movie)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoilers Discussion Ahead!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is breaking all kinds of records at the box office. It’s not just die-hard Star Wars fans who are giddy about Episode VII, critics love the movie too. The critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes is currently above 90% and The Force Awakens received a Best Picture nomination from the Critics Choice Awards.

This is all not to say that The Force Awakens is immune to criticism. It’s possible to be a fan of a film and at the same time be critical of parts of the movie which aren’t working as well as it could have.

Some believe that there are way too many similarities between The Force Awakens and A New Hope. On the other hand, some appreciate how Episode VII mirrored the original and reenergized the Star Wars universe for a new generation. While others draw the line at the Starkiller base being an unneeded retread of the Death Star.

Personally, The Force Awakens is deserving of a lot of praises yet there is one scene in particular, among a few, that took me out of the movie watching experience. This is the scene towards the end of the movie where Kylo Ren confronts a certain rebel on an open bridge. (Spoilers ahead, final warning)

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The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2015

What Do Your Favorite 2015 Movie Posters Say About You? 

A great movie poster can grab your attention and get you hyped for an upcoming film. Some are provocative, some are funny and some are plain weird. Some tell a story with a simple image. Some evoke a particular mood. Love or hate a film, you can’t deny an eye catching movie poster when you see it. What are your personal picks? Without further ado, check out these cool posters:

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Movie Roundup: What’s Your Favorite Jake Gyllenhaal Performance?

Movie Roundup is where I give quick impressions on a bunch of films. You might find a movie that catches your curiosity. Or maybe there’ll be a film to avoid, which means I watched a terrible movie so you wouldn’t have to! :)

I’m really liking Jake Gyllenhaal’s movie choices lately, especially over the last five years. Even though I generally like commercial movies, I’m glad he’s not doing stuff like the disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow or the video game based movie Prince of Persia anymore (I had little interest in watching those). In his more recent stuff, you can see he’s shifted to this whole other gear as an actor. What’s your favorite Jake Gyllenhaal performance or movie?

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10 Things I Like About “Say Anything”

Say Anything John Cusack Boombox

This post is part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur – High School/Teen Romance Movies. Don’t forget to check out all the great posts in this feature.

John Cusack holding a boombox outside his girlfriend’s bedroom window. It’s an iconic cinematic moment that, if you’re like me, are familiar with even if you haven’t watched 1989’s “Say Anything“. It’s been referenced and parodied so much, it’s about time I check out what the fuss is all about. Funny thing is watching that scene in context played out differently than what I expected. I’ll talk about that down below.

Say Anything reminds me a little bit of the more recent teen movie “The Spectacular Now“. The characters and their relationship feel instantly genuine. You see, Lloyd (John Cusack) doesn’t have big plans after high school. The only thing on his mind is getting a date with Diane (Ione Skye), the brainy girl who’s totally out of his league.

While Diane is the envy of other girls, her highly focused mind-set keeps her sheltered from many typical high school experiences.  We can see how Lloyd and Diane influence each other in ways that they would have never experienced if they never met. Their romance is not overly sappy and the humor comes across naturally. And also like The Spectacular Now, the father figure plays a role in this coming of age story.

Without further ado, here are 10 random things I like about Say Anything. A heads up, some of these will contain spoilers. You may want to watch Say Anything first before reading further.

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) Movie Review

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This post is part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur – Sci-fi/Fantasy Animated Movies (non Disney/Pixar). For all the great reviews in this feature, head on over to the wonderful MovieRob.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)
Director: Isao Takahata
English Voice Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Darren Criss

Director Isao Takahata may not be as well known outside of Japan as his fellow Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki but he’s a masterful filmmaker in is his own right. Takahata’s first movie in 14 years is a wonderful animated fantasy drama that pulls on the heart strings.

The story is based on the oldest Japanese folklore The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. In the beginning, an old man sees a glowing bamboo shoot in a forest. Now the bamboo is not empty or barren. The bamboo blossoms like a lotus flower revealing a tiny baby princess inside. The old man takes the princess back to his home and together with his wife raise the baby as if she were their own.

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5 Reasons Why Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Totally Rocks!

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This post is part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur – Dystopian Movies. Be sure to check out all the reviews in this feature by heading over to MovieRob.

Before the days of smearing blue paint over his face and going commando in a kilt (hey, let’s not judge), Mel Gibson roamed the barren, post apocalyptic wasteland in a Ford Falcon.  Of course, this is a reference to Gibson’s breakout role in the Mad Max movies which launched the actor into stardom. Let’s put on the breaks for a minute and take a rear view mirror look at the most popular movie in the Mad Max franchise. Here’s why 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is totally awesome.

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Genre Grandeur: Trance (2013) Movie Review

Trance James McAvoy

This month’s Genre Grandeur at MovieRob is all about British Thrillers! For all the reviews from many awesome movie bloggers head on over to MovieRob.  As always, I pick a movie that I’ve never previously watched. Here’s my take on Danny’s Boyle’s Trance starring James McAcoy:

Trance (2013)
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani

The set up to some of my favorite heist movies involve thieves making clever, elaborate plans only to abandon them when everything goes terribly wrong and as a result must rely on their quick wit to pull off a job against even greater odds. 2013’s Trance is a fresh take on the premise of a heist gone wrong; it’s a savy mixture of mind-bending twists and mysteries which are revealed to be increasingly more intricate as they unfold.

The beginning to Trance’s story is relatively straightforward. An art auctioneer (James McAvoy) gets caught up with criminals (Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani) and seeks the assistance of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to uncover the forgotten memory of what happened when a stolen painting is lost during a heist.

One of the strengths of Trance is how hypnosis is conceptually integrated into the story. From what I’ve heard about hypnosis is that it can’t make a person do something against their will or against their moral fiber. However, it can make a person more receptive to suggestion. So it’s astute for the screenplay to play on the idea of control in the shifting power dynamics between characters and within. Not knowing whether a character’s deepest motivation is truly their own or someone else’s adds to the story’s intrigue.

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Genre Grandeur: Constantine (2005) Movie Review

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Constantine (2005)
Number Of Times Seen: 1 (June 8, 2014)
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Wiesz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Tilda Swinton

A good idea can be hard to kill while some bad ideas just won’t die.  Based on DC/Vertigo’s horror comic book series Hellblazer, Constantine falls into the former category; a promising premise that’s been haphazardly adapted into a motion picture. Almost a decade later, Constantine gets another chance to prove its worth on-screen, this time resurrected as a television series on NBC beginning October 2014.

Co-creator Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) originally conceptualized John Constantine as an English streetwise magician with the looks of musician Sting.  Though the resemblance to Sting was removed by DC comics, Constantine is visually recognizable by his trademark trench coat and constant chain-smoking. In the movie version, haunted with the ability to see demons and angels, Constantine committed suicide as a teenager but is resuscitated. For the mortal sin of taking his own life, Constantine is condemned to Hell after death if unforgiven.

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Mini Movie Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

Foxcatcher 2014 Photo

Foxcatcher (2014)
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller

If there’s a missing link between director Bennett Miller’s Capote (2005) and his very different follow-up Moneyball (2011), Foxcatcher could more or less function as a cinematic bridge for those films. Like Moneyball, Foxcatcher is a compelling sports-based biographical pic but it’s more akin to Capote in that it’s a psychological drama based on a true story about a peculiar and ultimately disturbing relationship.

Three years after U.S. Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) won a gold medal at the 1984 games, he and eventually his older brother Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) are recruited by multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to operate a training complex at Foxcatcher estate.  As the story progresses, the initial question of why would the heir to the Du Pont family fortune would want to be involved with amateur wrestling evolves into a darker examination of the human psyche.

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