Archive | Directors RSS feed for this section

I, Frankenstein is going to leave a scar

31 Jan


It’s alive! Well, it is happy to be breathing at this point because the newest interpretation of Mary Shelley’s classic character has many noticeable imperfections that are going to leave a scar. At times, the film is entertaining, but then it falls into a familiar sounding story line, “There has been a war…” and basically the Frankenstein monster is going to have to choose a side because his soulless body has the potential to change the face of the conflict. The film is on life support because the acting, directing and story telling falls short of the magic Kevin Grevioux’s created in the Underworld franchise. Aaron Eckhart’s stick wielding becomes repetitive and Yvonne Strahovski’s character is asked to make unrealistic leaps in a short amount of time in order to push the story forward. It just doesn’t work. However, this is NOT the worst Frankenstein film I have seen and maybe Grevioux bring it back to life in a sequel.

Chuck’s Grade: C-

Adam’s Grade: N/A

LEE DANIEL’S THE BUTLER serves a up sentimental story

27 Jan


The most striking aspect of Lee Daniel’s The Butler is Forest Whitaker’s (Cecil Gaines) in the title role. It was a beautiful performance about a man, a father, and a husband attempting to provide for his family while attempting to come to turns with his role in life and his place in history. At the center of the film is a story about a father and a son at odds with one another about what actions should be taken to make a positive difference in the world. The film begins with the embarrassing truth of America’s most shameful behavior and follows Mr. Gaines as he becomes a butler at the White House, while his son, Louis grows up to become an activist fighting for African-Americans’ civil rights at most of the major points in history. It is a sentimental story that takes on too much at once, but Whitaker should not have been ignored by the Academy Awards.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A

DRINKING BUDDIES is brewed with care

20 Jan


Sometimes love is all about timing, Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers at Chicago brewery. They are best friends that like to drink and flirt with one another, but struggle with romantic feelings because they are dating other people. Writer and director by Joe Swanberg gives a different, but realistic look at relationships that go on in the restaurant industry. Their connection resonated with me, even though I spend my time on the other side of the bar. The actors’ portrayal becomes dynamic when alcohol becomes part of the equation. It looses the characters up and blurs the emotional reactions in the process.  Actions speak louder than words, and this film’s best scenes are those moments of silence. Like most bar relationships, I am left with wishing there was more to it.  Drinking Buddies is brewed with care, but I did not want to order another round.


Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

I am glad I spent time with HER

16 Jan


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.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

OLD BOY (2013) has some new tricks

1 Jan


Spike Lee’s desire to re-interpret the critically acclaimed 2003 South Korean film, Old Boy for domestic audiences was a bold move because of the amount of criticism he would receive from audiences familiar with the original. I was eager to see how he would negotiate certain scenes and particular parts of the story that have made Old Boy a memorable, but uncomfortable film to watch. Technically, everything is in the movie, but done in a way that is more like a jazz musician riffing on a familiar melody than a replay of an old song. Some things worked really well, while others things did not. This version had more of back story, which made it easier for American audiences to understand, but it was too much because those moments of discomfort did not have the same impact. However, I enjoyed this movie and the choice to cast Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen as the principal characters was a strong choice.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Gravity is out of this world

7 Oct


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.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Rush is exhilarating from start to finish

3 Oct


Director Ron Howard is back in the driver seat with both hands on the steering will his adrenaline fueled film, Rush. Based on the true story of the Formula 1 racing rivalry between English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian professional Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). The film reveals their contrasting personalities and styles, as well as their obsession for becoming world champions.

Howard teams up with writer Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) who is becoming a master at creating dynamic relationships between opposing character rivals. It truly is the driving force that gets everything going.

Howard put together the perfect vehicle this time. A thrilling score by Hans Zimmers and expert camerawork by Anthony Dod Mantle. Equally important is Hemsworth’s acting. He is maturing into something much more than eye candy and muscles. However, Bruhl’s steals the checker flag and finishes off with a signature performance. Rush is full of life, color, risk and it is exhilarating from start to finish.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Prisoners won’t let you go

2 Oct

The award season is quickly approaching and Prisoners sets the tone for early considerations. The Dover family (Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello) and Birch Family (Terrence Howard, Viola Davis) are facing every parent’s worst nightmare. Their daughters are missing, and as minutes turn to hours, panic and desperation engulf their emotions. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) searches for the girls, but his only lead is released due to lack of evidence. Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands.

Prisoners is a thriller that takes audiences through a gamut of emotions and doubt. Working with the gifted Roger Deakins, Director Denis Villeneuve creates a nightmare environment that sends shivers down audiences’ spines. The subject matter has a become a popular topic in horror/thriller films, but Prisoners attempts to do something much different. The cast is unbelievable with Jackman and Gyllenhaal leading the way. Even at a running time of 153 minutes, Prisoners holds you tight and will not let you go.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Zodiac is an elusive subject to capture

25 Sep


Director David Fincher makes an attempt to capture the most elusive and mysterious figure in law enforcement history. He is no stranger to serial killers, but his interpretation of Zodiac by Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) gives audiences a front row seat to Graysmith’s obsession with the infamous case that terrorized Northern California and frustrated investigators for decades.

Fincher’s visual style and attention to detail are impeccable. He takes his time with the characters and attempts to replicate these events as accurately as possible from Graysmith’s perspective, but it does lead to a slow pace and a long run time. The cast is formidable, however, Gyllenhaal’s performance isn’t nearly as strong  as Mark Ruffalo as Detective Dave Toschi and Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery.  It is difficult to satisfy audiences with such an ending, but Fincher remains true to the story and keeps “Hollywood” out of it as much as possible.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: B

Requiem for a Dream is a hard truth

24 Sep


Requiem for a Dream consumes your mind, body and soul like a drug and holds onto to you after the final credits are over. Your skin feels like something is crawling on you, but nothing is there. It is one of the most powerful films ever. Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of Hubert Selby’s novel follows the lives of four different people, Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). The film explores the direct and indirect effects drugs have on each of them and reveals their blossoming hopes turn into a state of moral and physical helplessness.

Editor Jay Rabinowitz perfects Aronofsky’s hip-hop editing technique. The drug scenes are ground-breaking and the downward spirals of each character is a gut wrenching experience that stays with you forever. Everyone in the cast gives powerful performances, especially Burstyn and Leto whose addictions are scary reminders of the hard truth.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: A+