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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Best Bets in the Theater Right Now...

12 Years a Slave: A
    Click here for the review... One of the best, if not thee best slavery film that you'll ever see.  Very brutal and hard to watch... you have been warned.

About Time:  A+
click here for the review...  Great Story. Thorough and superbly told. Perfect date flick. May have knocked Love Actually off it's pedestal.  


Click here for the review...   One of the most underrated and surprisingly stunning films that I've seen in a very long time.  Heart pounding tense scenes and situations.  A picture that you can literally become apart of while you are sitting there in the theater seat.

The Counselor:  C+ 

Click here for the review... and I'm being real generous with the + 

Oscar Nominee Predictions [so far]

BEST PICTURE: 42, 12 Years a Slave,  About Time,  Prisoners

BEST DIRECTING: Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave),  Brian Helgeland(42)

BEST ACTOR:  Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Matthew McConaughey(MUD(not reviewed on this site)), Forest Whitaker( the Butler)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Micheal Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Harrison Ford (42), Daniel Brühl (RUSH)

BEST ACTRESS:  Ziyi Zhang (The Grandmaster)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Michelle Pfeiffer (The Family)



BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:  The Grandmaster, Gravity, Fruitvale Station

SPECIAL EFFECTS: Gravity, Elysium

SOUND MIXING: Gravity, The Grandmaster

ANIMATION: The Croods (no review on this site)




"I've been asked to prom."  

         Chloë Grace Moretz is a very talented actress and as charming and charismatic as she is... I wish they would've casted someone different to play a timid and shy Carrie White.  Somebody with a more 'vulnerable' look maybe, I don't know. It could be that Chloë's definitive work as a vampire in Let Me In is getting in the way of me seeing her on screen in any other way... at least in any dark movie. 

    This remake, that should have never been made, suffered in a lot of ways but none more outright than the special effects. I don't want to pile on but honestly and without exaggerating... I've seen better CGI and special effects in the original Spy Kids movie... seriously.  I was so disappointed but mainly at all the potential left back in studio. They should of pushed the date back, maybe did a few more test screenings and made the necessary post-production modifications. It could have worked.

  Not worth the paying theater prices maybe, and I mean maybe a date night movie when available on bluray.

letter grade: C-


Friday, November 1, 2013

The Counselor



"You don't know someone until you know what they want." 

  This was a very confusing film to watch.  From beginning to end I found myself constantly trying to put ‘pieces’ together.  You have to be very patient with the plot.  Then, when everything starts to flow, there are more questions made in the progress.  Dialogue, Dialogue, Dialogue, or should I have said Monologue, monologue, monologue!  There were way too much talking about…whatever and everything! Not enough execution of the themes and ideas talked about. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of executing, but not enough to balance the scale where metaphors and very wise ideals sat on the opposite side from action and plot resolution… that side of the seesaw stayed in the dirt.

      Everything that made No Country for Old Men spectacular had a direct opposite effect in The Counselor, which involuntarily showcase's The Coen Brothers genius.   Besides Quentin Tarantino, Joel and Ethan Coen are the best at directing conversation… and this script had a lot of it.  Ridley Scott’s[director of The Counselor] expertise has never been a novelistic style of directing rather a descriptive visual suspense style that relies heavily on a great script and story.  Since the story here is confusing and maybe a little weak, the great Mr. Scott becomes as exposed as George Lucas with the Redtails project.
    Besides being a disappointment there were gems throughout.  None more than an extended phone call from a mob boss buddy (that I’m still unsure of how they met) telling the counselor certain truths in life that we can ALL benefit from… as a matter of fact, if there was ever a replay value to this film THAT would be it.  That plus another very interesting lesson about diamonds from another captivating character whose wisdom also doubles as his character’s intro and outro…Character build-up is non-existent throughout the entire running time… You literally will have to accept everyone for who they are, which should work in a film ‘like this’... but it doesn't.  

   I give Michael Fassbender accolades every chance I get.  He’s one of the best and one of my favorite actors… He’s also the leakiest. Ol boy can really cry and turn the juices on.  Some may feel like he overacted for this part but I don’t.  Cameron Diaz played her character extremely well, and to think Angelina Jolie was originally casted.  I’m glad it worked out the way it did.  Penelope Cruz did a good job and Brad Pitt played himself but Javier Bardem was the most interesting character out of all of them, he did an amazing job playing a drug dealer living life loud but wrestling with sentimental issues of the heart.   The scene with him venting to the counselor about his wild girlfriend and her exploits with his vehicle is by far the most memorable scene!  Its a shame this incredible cast will be casted into the abyss of "dream teams that fell short".

      Is this film worth the buck? It’s worth it, quality of the film can vouch for that…. Should you pay theater prices to see this film? Probably not, I would recommend you making this a movie night once it comes out  on bluray… and even then be warned, it may be even harder to follow when you in your own home and especially if you're sitting on a comfortable couch.

  letter grade: C+




 "You have to learn to let go. "
        Gravity got so many mixed reviews among my peers that I decided to find out for myself what it was.  Not on my list of ‘must sees’ I still made my way to the theater on an early Saturday morning to check it out in 3D...  Spectacular! And not just the gorgeous cinematography that I heard about previously but all the moments.  The chain reaction disasters contrasted with deafening silences interrupted with titillating gasps and sips of oxygen in order to survive that kept us in air as thin as that on screen.

      This film will win an Oscar for Cinematography and or Special Effects and probably even Sound Editing.  Come back after the awards are given out and see how I fared for my prediction.  To me, this was the first real surprise film this year.  The way it was promoted and even the cast of George Clooney erected all sorts of red flags initially… and I like George… just not in a film like this… but I was wrong.  After seeing his performance and the type of part he played in the grand scheme of things, I can’t imagine anyone better.

    I heard some complaints of it being boring or slow parts… I’m sorry, I just didn't get that. This film was almost near perfect.  The action was intense and even the silence was suspenseful dramatic.  I felt like I was inside the film. When it was over, I felt like I absorbed it instead of watched it.  Maybe because I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little and planes and shuttles really interests me, or just maybe director Alfonso Cuar’on did a phenomenal job…  In either case the bar set for Science Fiction in film has again been moved up a few notches and I love it.

   Be sure to arrive on time so you’ll catch the short narration at the very beginning, subtitled to thoroughly prepare you for everything that you are about to absorb…. very important’e!

    Definitely worth every penny.  I think this should hold it’s own even without the 3D… It’s THAT beautiful to watch.

letter grade: A

12 Years a Slave




Powerful. Gut wrenching perfectly memorable...  Only problem is that it seems as if the film was made in an effort to provoke, which in most cases is a good thing.  
However in my personal estimate, I could stand for a little less shock therapy and a lot more storytelling.  I guess their defense would be there would be no story without the awful truths. To then my retort would be this: I’m 38… A young 38, old 38 it’s all relative depending on how long you've been here… In all these years I’ve seen my share of slavery movies.  There’s nothing new that I hadn’t seen in similar films.  Except what 12 Years a Slave does so well and that is to take the smallest details of that era and amplify them.  Not to the point of exaggeration either but right at the threshold of believably… then leaves you there, with no score music or crafty transitions…. you just dangle there in awe.  I’ve never been the type to let films depict my mood in a negative way, but tonight I feel like I was drugged.  I wasn’t expecting the  terror on the scale that I received.

     Michael Fassbender might be one of the top three actors of all time.  Chiwetel Ejiofor has always been a superior but underrated actor.  I hope this effort propels him into the realm of discussion when comparing the greatest of actors and actresses in the last few decades.  The supporting cast all did a remarkable job as everyone on screen held there own.

      This isn’t for the feint of heart.  I notice folk leaving the auditorium, a lot of heavy breathing and mumbling in disgust.  I remember just wanting the film to end.  Not because it was too long but because it was too much!  I also remember the credits rolling and we couldn't immediately get up.  Everyone took a collective breath and gathered ourselves because we too, like the characters on screen were [emotionally] impoverished, spent and in the end, still.

   More than worth the price of admission
letter grade: A




"Lesson Number One: All the time traveling in the world can't make someone love you."

         It is a journey. By the time it was over I was spent.   Every high and low of love was not covered in the film but just about all was represented on a wide scope.  The thought of reliving every moment until it is perfect sounds exhausting. Even the very thought of time travel is preposterous, and you would think that would get in the way of a potentially solid story but it really didn't.  One may also predict time shifting and redoing the story each time would be annoying but it wasn't.  There came a time when you just accept it without questioning it.  In fact, there were so many times in the film where I forgot that he could do the impossible because of the near perfect direction of the picture…. The time travel was just a MacGuffin, the real story was told incredibly and beautifully.

     A good gauge would be Love Actually… If you loved that, you will love this. The negative side is if you thought Love Actually was too quirky, too long, boring or whatever… You still may enjoy About Time.  I found it to be on a faster pace. Plus it was a little more linear with only one story to tell as opposed to keeping up with 9 couples in Love Actually.  

    Excellent cast.  Bill Nighy is always good. Perfectly witty with impeccable timing and delivery. The marquee of a seasoned acTOR.

           Just a real pleasant movie all the way around.  Unpredictable, at least to me, because I went in not knowing anything about the film or having viewed any trailers/teasers for it. With the subject being love and the lesson being life, how could it not be worth the watch? Time being as priceless as it is, it is hard to imagine it better spent than watching this new favorite film.

      letter grade: A+ [the plus happened because I was pleasantly surprised]

Escape Plan




"If I don't get out, I will kill you."
Escape Plan was cute.  I don’t want to say ‘typical’ Sylvester Stallone movie because to me a typical Sly Stone movie is a tad bit better than Escape Plan… “Bullet to the Head”, for instance or “The Specialist”... both were very good, typical… Sylvester Stallone type flicks.

    Maybe it was the acting from the rest of the B level cast, including but certainly not limited to Curtis Jackson, otherwise know as 50cent.   Objectively, maybe his acting wasn't as bad as I think it is because I can’t separate the rapper from the actor but then again that should fall on the casting director and not me right? Perhaps it was the predictability besides all the MacGyver situations that Stallone's character get’s out of, you pretty much know how this is going to end.  Whatever the case, the popcorn was warm and the pop was cold (without the ice)... I enjoyed myself.

    Escape Plan is worth watching ONLY after everything else is scratched off your “must see” list… and maybe a few off the  “want to see” list.

letter grade: C-

Captain Phillips




"Listen up, we have been boarded by armed pirates. If they find you, remember, you know this ship, they don't. Stick together and we'll be alright. Good luck."

 Watching a movie that you know the ending to isn't the ideal way to spend a hard earned dollar in a theater. In fact, its almost stupid unless it is based on a real life event in which case those stories, albeit predictable, usually carries their own weight.  That true story should be powerful enough on it's own merit if there was an effort to make a film after it.  That was discussed back a few weeks ago in the RUSH review but deserves repeating… The true masters can take a real story and focus on the minuscule details that we sometimes overlook in a massive real life event and birth more stories out the indegenous base work.

   Very interesting to watch, especially if you kept up with the actual event years ago.  I read that there were some exaggerations and some unfair representations of the crew.  Wrong or right the movie itself was put together extremely well. Nice chemistry. Intense encounters. Paul Greengrass didn't introduced the pirates to the Tom Hanks until they were actually face to face on set… to help create ‘real’ tension… it worked

  Captain Phillips is worth watching.

   letter Grade: B+

recommendation:  The short film ASAD was a really good film about the lifes of some somalian pirates... and there is a really nice story in the mix as well.... very well made.
Asad - Short Film Trailer from Nice Shoes on Vimeo.