Archive | October, 2013

Shaky “The Fifth Estate” Is Carried By Cumberbatch

19 Oct

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The Fifth Estate stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. If you don’t know what Wikileaks is, you might not be particularly interested in this movie, but I can assure you the movie raises some very interesting and important questions. Wikileaks is a website founded by Australian Assange as a way to help whistleblowers within corrupt organizations and institutions secure anonymity while exposing valuable information to the public. The movie chronicles the relationship between Assange and Daniel Berg, played by Daniel Bruhl, during the time that WIkileaks came to prominence.  Wikileaks is Julian Assange’s baby, but he reluctantly accepts help when the scale of the website becomes unmanageable by just Assange.  Both Assange and Berg believe they are doing good for the world, but the movie ultimately begs the question: How much information is too much for the public? Berg and Assange eventually get a scoop so big that it brings international governments to its knees, but they must decide what to do with it. 

There’s actually a number of other interesting questions woven into the story, but they aren’t able to relay to the audience as effectively as one would hope and I can only blame director Bill Condon. I’ve had a bit of a grudge against Condon ever since he ruined Breaking Dawn’s screen adaption. (If I’m being honest here I know the source material is a bit…weak but this man has no vision.) Cumberbatch is brilliant as Assange, nailing his mannerisms, accent and general deviousness perfectly. Not surprising, coming from Cumberbatch, he elevates the material of everything he’s been in. Bruhl is good as Berg, but he was certainly much better in Rush. 

Ultimately this movie provides some great talking points, but really needed a much sharper script to keep up with similar stories such as The Social Network. I do guarentee you will love Cumberbatch’s performance. Not a top ten pick for the year, but certainly interesting and fairly entertaining. 

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Captain Phillips Is Emotionally Moving and Suspenseful Treat

18 Oct

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Captain Phillips stars Tom Hanks as….well Captain Richard Phillips. This movie is based off real events that occurred in 2009 off the coast of Somolia. I was vaguely aware of these events and I’m sure you are too. I think it is better to go in to the movie with as little knowledge as possible of what you’re going to see. Unless you’re going to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which I watched this week, and in that case you need to MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHATS GOING ON. Or you’re gunna have a bad time. Anyways, I’m getting off topic. 

I found this movie to be very engaging immediately. We don’t know very much about Captain Phillips quickly, but you can tell he’s a good man. Maybe it has something to do with Tom Hanks face. Dude is so nice. So Phillips starts his day off normally, checking his emails and seeing there are some warnings for pirates in the area he’s sailing into. However nothing could prepare him for how the rest of the day goes. 

This is another very interesting movie about survival, however quite different from Gravity, which I talked about last time. Gravity is about facing the emotional toll of what it means to keep living, but Captain Phillips never has us doubting that Richard Phillips has something to live for. This story invites the viewer to be just as astonished and terrified as Phillips was in this real situation. I love how the reality of everything was handled. In a Tom Cruise movie, the hero would just grab a gun or use his crazy awesome punching skills to quickly disable the threat. This film is what happens to an ordinary man when he needs to find extraordinary courage. I highly recommend checking this out in theaters as soon as you get a chance! 

So, as I mentioned earlier I am working my way through Benedict Cumberbatch’s filmography so this week I saw Third Star and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, both of which are beautiful, truly excellent films and I can’t recommend them highly enough. I also saw Wreckers, which you can find on American Netflix, or just stream from the internet. It’s also very good; its about two dysfunctional brothers and the secrets they keep that tears a marriage apart. I’m going to see Fifth Estate tonight and I’m very excited about it so expect a review soon. 

Gravity Surprises with Universal Appeal

16 Oct

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Gravity stars Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone, an astronaut tasked with updating equipment on a spacecraft. George Clooney plays Matt Kawolski, an experienced astronaut leading the team on their mission.  If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the general story is that an explosion occurs which causes disastrous results for the astronauts. Upon seeing the trailer, I wasn’t particularly interested in watching this film. I’m not really big on space, or sci-fi themed things (or at least I keep telling myself I’m not but mounting evidence is beginning to disprove that assertion) however I decided to check it out based on the unbelievably high score the film has received on rottentomatoes.com. 

I do not regret my decision to go see this (expensive, what with the 3D) film. It is very suspenseful, hauntingly beautiful and ultimately tells a story of survival that everyone can relate to. How far would you have to dig to find the will to keep going to the face of extraordinarily bad circumstances? It takes a little while to get fully engaged in the story; to really care about Bullock’s character but this time is compensated for by the immediately stunning visuals. Of course you know if you are a regular reader, I hate 3D movies and if there was an option to see this in regular format, I would have taken it quickly. However, I will say this is one of the only 3D movies that really made full use out of the effect, and the intense beauty is not compromised by the stupid glasses. 

I’ve never been a huge Sandra Bullock fan but she really carries this movie with her incredibly dedicated performance, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s nominated for another Oscar. I actually ended up bawling my eyes out by the end of the film, but I may have just been having an emotional day. Go see it and tell me if you cried! This is certainly a top ten movie for this year and I am very excited to get to the good stuff that is scheduled for later this year, not limited to Thor and Catching Fire. 

We also saw Captain Phillips as well this week so I will have a review on that soon. I am also working my way through Benedict Cumberbatch’s filmography so I may post some reviews pertaining to that particular obsession if I can take a break from journeying through his amazing work long enough to write something about it. His new movie The Fifth Estate comes out this Friday and you can be dead sure my butt is going to be in that seat opening night. 

Don Jon is Exciting and Fresh…and not for anyone under 18

4 Oct

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Ken and I caught Don Jon last weekend and we both enjoyed it immensely. It’s a film written and directed by AND starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, who proves again and again that he is an exceptional talent with his fingers in many pies. 

Don Jon tells the story of Jon, a 21st century young man raised to value certain ideas about life and love without much analysis into what these ideas really mean. Jon lives his life in a particular way, enjoys his routine and everything is going pretty smoothly for him until he meets Barbara (played by Scarlett Johansson) who interrupts his life and challenges him, which is good, but with the wrong motivations. Jon has a slight intimacy problem due to his all encompassing relationship with internet porn which poses some serious issues for the budding couple. 

This film is really fresh and original, and I believe many young people will identify with the way that Jon develops throughout the story from someone shallow, vapid and narcissistic into a man who can think and feel for himself, honestly and genuinely. There’s a lot to like about this movie but if you are sensitive to sexual material, perhaps you should pass. There was a group sitting directly in front of Ken and I who walked out about 15 minutes in. (Rightly so, they were being gits messing around with their phones and whatnot, so I was extremely happy to see them go.) I had no doubt they left due to the explicitly sexual material but I don’t think human sexually is something to be feared. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this film so much; the sexual relationship people have with themselves is probably one of the most important they’ll have in their lives and it doesn’t get nearly enough serious attention. JGL has certainly taken some risks in this film and I hope he will be rewarded for his courage with thoughtful discussion from critics and regular movie-goers alike.