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I am glad I spent time with HER

16 Jan

HER-FILM

Spike Jonze’s latest film ‘Her’, set in the not-too-distant future, tells the story of writer Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who finds himself falling in love with Samantha, an advanced operating system (Scarlett Johansson), while he is dealing with a divorce from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara). The film emits warmth and intelligence with its exceptional production design, cinematography, and performances. There is a charming quality to Jonze’s dialogue with both of the characters being tormented by loneliness. Her does not shy away from topical subject material, such as modern society’s dependence on technology. If it has not happened yet, it will in the near future, unless people are to compartmentalize and measure technologies contribution to a better life. Phoenix tops his performance in The Master with this grounded performance while Johansson, captivates our senses with her sultry voice. Her reminds audiences to appreciate the moments with our loved one. I am glad I spent time with Her.

WORD COUNT: 156

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Gravity is out of this world

7 Oct

GRAVITY-FILM

The most anticipated film for me this year was Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.” With his first film since the 2006 sci-fi drama “Children of Men,” Cuaron has broken new ground here, creating an experience unlike anything audiences have seen before. When a routine repair job on the Hubble telescope goes awry, a medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and a mission commander, Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), must work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.

Believe the hype, this is one of the most visually stunning films ever, with its groundbreaking CGI that features jaw-dropping single-shot sequences. Clocking in at 90 minutes, Cuaron wastes no time in moving the story along. Bullock ventures outside of her normal orbit of roles and gives an amazing performance while Clooney is great in his supporting role. This is masterful technical achievement with Cuaron, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and Visual-Effects Tim Webber creating a movie going experience worthy of Oscar consideration.

WORD COUNT: 159

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The Prestige is an underrated film

14 Sep

THE-PRESTIGE

Christopher Nolan has been known to trick and challenge his audiences to think, but he explores new ground in the underrated film, The Prestige. Two magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) have turned a friendly competition into a bitter rivalry that consumes each of them with obsession and jealousy. Both actors give convincing performances. Their preparation for the roles of magicians are obvious and not lost on the audience.

Magicians are not supposed to reveal their secrets and Nolan continues to amaze audiences with his ability to direct or should I say misdirect the obvious from the mind and eye. Wally Pfister’s camera work and use of dark-lighting sets the tone for Nolan and his brother Jonathan to adapt a story that is full of mystery from start to finish. Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The Prestige has all three parts and has audiences leaving the theater asking, “How did he do that?”

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: B

Short Term 12 should not be overlooked this summer

6 Sep

SHORT-TERM-12

Filmmaker Destin Cretton draws from his personal experiences from working at a foster care facility to create a thoughtful and powerful film, Short Term 12. The plot revolves around a group home for troubled teens where a supervising staff member, Grace (Brie Larson) attempts to negotiate and navigate her way through her personal and professional problems.

Cretton artfully presents a difficult subject and backs it up with authentic dialogue that resonate for a long time after the end credits. The acting is wonderful across the board with Larson and Gallagher Jr. leading the way with award worthy performances. Their characters are flawed which makes for a much more interesting film. Cretton’s script is sound and the documentary-like shot direction adds to the story’s authenticity. Short Term 12 balances hope and despair in a way most independent films cannot. It is a valuable gem that should not be overlooked this summer.

WORD COUNT: 149

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The Dark Knight is a diabolical masterpiece

29 Aug

THE-DARK-KNIGHT

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight raises the bar and turns the sequel to Batman Begins into one of the most memorable action films of all time. It exceeded most audience’s expectations because of its complexity, rich story, exhilarating action, and Heath Ledger’s legendary performance as The Joker. No one should ever put on the white make-up again after Ledger’s diabolical performance. Gotham will never be the same and Batman (Christian Bale) had to use everything at his disposal to combat his arch-nemesis.

Even at a running time of over two and a half hours the story and characters have no problem holding audiences’ attention. The visual effects combined with adept sound design/editing elevate the film and become an integral part of the unforgettable masterpiece. The Dark Knight is not only the best superhero film, but one of the most entertaining and satisfying films of all time.

WORD COUNT: 146

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A+

The Spectacular Now shook me

15 Aug

the-spectacular-now

Eight months into 2013 and The Spectacular Now is the best film I have seen so far. It features a young cast that brings Tim Tharpe’s novel to life. The film follows Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior that refuses to live beyond the moment. He has no plans and his interests have led him to a life of hard partying, but after being dumped by his girlfriend he wakes up to something much more.

The film exceeded my expectations because of the performances by Teller and Shailene Woodley. Their chemistry and charisma are charming and pulls you in. This is not your normal coming of age film. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber defy the formula and create an unpredictable story that goes to all the right places. I believe it is the most authentic picture of adolescence since John Hughes. The Spectacular Now shook me and took me back to a place I had forgotten about

WORD COUNT: 159

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Collateral creates a disagreement

6 Aug

Collateral-film

Michael Mann’s Collateral is one of the best modern noir films of the 21st Century, although my partner in crime (Chuck) completely disagrees with this statement.

Like Mann’s previous film Heat, Collateral was shot entirely in Los Angeles and the environment comes through. Tom Cruise uncharacteristically plays an antagonist while Jamie Foxx serves as the hero in this film about a hitman (Cruise) getting into a cab and “asking” the cabbie (Foxx) to bring him to five locations to carry out his “business.” I believe the stars are dynamic together and each give one of the best performances of their career, but my partner feels they are wrong for the parts. Screenwriter Stuart Beattie creates two original characters that help keep the film grounded in a game of cat and mouse. Mann allows the tension to build, which has become a trademark of his thrillers. Collateral has substance, whereas Chuck thinks he is caught up in his style.

WORD COUNT: 158

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: B-

Elephant

2 Jul

Elephant-film

Silence can be unsettling for some people, but Gus Van Sant uses the technique to unnerve audiences with the second film in his “Death Trilogy” series. Elephant is an original work based on actual events stemming from the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre. The film opens a short time before a pair of average teenage students open fire on their classmates. Van Sant strips away the sensationalism and stylized approach to death on-screen to force audiences to experience the ultra-realistic moments of taking a life and the emotionless demeanor of the killers.  He uses long takes, POV camera work, and natural lighting to capture this cast of new and non-professional actors in a way very few directors would have the guts to venture. Van Sant aesthetic choices may infuriate some people because it is an upsetting film without real closure, but these kinds of tragedies do exist and it is the artists responsibility to try to make sense of the senseless.

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: B

Inception questions our understanding of reality

28 Jun

inception

With Inception, Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the best writer/directors in Hollywood. His multi-layered plot filled with jaw-dropping visuals, adept acting from an ensemble cast, and well-paced action is like no other blockbuster to date. Nolan challenges his audience to think, as opposed to simply enduring one explosion after another. This has led to a love it or leave it response to this film.

Leonardo DiCaprio takes on one of his most complex roles as Cobb, a professional thief hired to commit corporate espionage by infiltrating the minds of his targets and leaving an idea that would benefit Cobb’s employer. Inception is an original film that successfully makes the “familiar strange and the strange familiar” by blurring the borders of the conscious mind with the subconscious dream world to the point audiences are questioning their own reality as they leave the cinema. We love it and hope to see Cobb again in our theater of dreams.

WORD COUNT: 159

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A+

Shaun of the Dead kills you with laughs

25 Jun

shaun-of-the-dead

Shaun of the Dead is the first entry of the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy created by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, with the other films being Hot Fuzz and the upcoming The World’s End. Shaun (Pegg) is an Everyman character that is trying to get his life back on track when flesh-hungry zombies start to rise in numbers around modern-day London. He must spring into action and come to the rescue by holding up in what he believes is the safest place during a zombie invasion… a pub.

Shaun of the Dead works as a parody of the classic zombie films because they do it out of love for the genre. They provide enough blood for die-hard Zombie fans (pun intended) and enough humor for those that want to enjoy a comedy. The writing is crisp, hilarious, and very English as they keep the pace brisk, even with slow moving hands out stretched Zombies.

WORD COUNT: 155

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: B