Monday, October 22, 2012

Film Columbia 2012

Just as I did last year, since most of these movies haven't been released yet, I'm just going to give a brief review and my rating for each.

Excellent performances by Maggie Smith, Michael Gamdon, and the rest of the cast. Cinematography was gorgeous. Editing could've been a little tighter though. And I wish the ending had been a few minutes longer. But overall I enjoyed the film. This is Dustin Hoffman's first time directing (well, directing a complete movie anyway) and I think he did a good job.
My Rating: 7.5/10

Mea Maxima Culpa/Silence in the House of God-
Very powerful documentar about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, mainly focusing on the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, who abused several deaf boys at the school he worked at over the course of many years. There's several interviews with the survivors and seeing them tell their story, my heart went out to them. Their gestures and facial expressions were absolutely heartbreaking. The only issue I really had was the use of voiceovers during the interviews. I just didn't think it was necessary. But very good movie. I think everyone should see this.
My Rating: 8.5/10

17 Girls-
One of my least favorite films of the festival. A French film based on a true story that occured in Massachucets. 17 very naive girls from one high school end up getting pregnant around the same time. The acting was pretty bad. There were a few scenes that were okay, but that's about it.
My Rating: 4.5/10

Hyde Park On Hudson-
Bill Murray as FDR? Sounds crazy, but I think he did an amazing job. As did the other actors. There were a few moments I wasn't crazy about, but I had a great time watching this. I can see Bill Murray getting an Oscar nomination for his performance.
My Rating: 8.5/10

Rust & Bone-
Wow! I didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did. The amazing Marion Cotillard plays Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who loses part of her legs in an accident. She meets Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts, who's brilliant in this. He'll be one to watch in the coming years.) a single dad who was once a kickboxer. What I loved about this movie was it's portrayl of Stephanie & Ali's relationship. Very realistic.
My Rating: 9/10

This was the Saturday Night Sneak movie. Another French film. Boy was this depressing! It's the story of an elderly couple. The wife has a stroke and makes her husband promise that he won't take her to the hospital again. You see her slowly deteriorate and he loves her so much and does his best to take care of her. Honestly, I can't recommend this movie. It's such a downer and I was in a lousy mood for the rest of the night. If you do end up seeing it, it's one of those movies that you'll only watch once. The only positive thing I have to say is that it was well acted. I'm not even sure I want to give it a rating. But, I guess I will. This is based pretty much on the acting.
My Rating: 7/10

The Sessions-
One of the most talked about movies. Based on a true story. John Hakes plays Mark O'Brien, a man stricken with polio who wants to experience sex. So he hires a sex surrogate named Cheryl (Helen Hunt). Very funny and touching movie. Amazing performances all around. I think John Hawkes has a good chance at winning an Oscar this year. William H Macy plays a priest in this. He was one of my favorite parts.
My Rating: 9/10

Silver Linings Playbook-
This was without a doubt my favorite movie of the festival! Perfect mix of comedy, drama, and romance. Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar former teacher who was just released after spending 8 months in a mental hospital. He moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro & Jacki Weaver) and is also determined to get back together with his ex wife Nikki. But then he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence, giving another Oscar worthy performance), a young widow with plenty of issues of her own. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll cheer. I think this movie will win all sorts of awards. I strongly suggest you see it when it's released. I loved it and I think you will too.
My Rating: 10/10

Cloud Atlas-
I hadn't planned on seeing this, but I decided to give it a chance. I'm not even going to bother explaining the plot since I'm not even sure what to make of it. It's based on a book many deemed unfilmable. Most of the actors (the cast includes Ton Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Surandon, and many more) play multiple roles. It's visually stunning and the musical score was very well done. Just to warn you though, the movie is nearly three hours long and you really have to pay attention the whole time. But it's well worth the effort.
My Rating: 8.5/10

Many thanks to the Crandell theater, Chatham Film Club, and everyone else who made this festival possible. I had such a great time. Can't wait til next year :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Over the last several years, I've been extremely disappointed in horror movies. Most of them haven't been well made nor are they really scary. Well, I'm happy to say that's not the case with Sinister. It scared the crap out me. Finally! When I go to a horror movie, I want to be scared. As in, walking out into the parking lot afterward, looking over my shoulder constantly and not being able to sleep for days kind of scared.

Anyway, Sinister tells the story of a guy named Ellison (Ethan Hawke). He's a true crime writer who had a lot of success 10 years ago with one of his books but since then he hasn't been so lucky. He decides to move, along with his wife and two kids, into a house where a family had been murdered (dumbass!) and investigate and write a book about what he finds. One day he goes up into the attic and finds an old Super 8 camera and films that are labled as if they were typical family home movies (which I promise are anything but that). So he watches them and is shocked at what he finds. As Ellison investigates these murders further, strange things begin to happen. I'd love to tell you more about the plot but I can't without spoiling the whole movie for you.

Sinister isn't your typical found footage movie that Hollywood seems to turn out by the dozen lately. It's a regular movie about the guy who finds the found footage and you get to see what he sees.

What I love about this movie is that it doesn't rely on jump scares (although there are some in here. Nearly had a heart attack.). A lot of it is stuff that messes with your head. Scott Derrikson (the director, whose previous films include The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the recent remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still) does an amazing job setting the tone. The movie also had a really low budget from what I here, but you can't even tell. I thought he made it look great.

The writer of Sinister is C Robert Cargill, whom I've been a huge fan of for awhile now. He use to be a film critic on my favorite movie review site I think the writing is one of the best parts of the movie. Unlike many writers of horror films he made these characters likeable. Even though Ellison is a selfish jerk at times, you still like him and understand the reasoning behind what he does.

The acting was really good too, especially Ethan Hawke. He's such an amazing actor. I couldn't imagine anyone else playing this part. Loved seeing Fred Thompson as the sheriff too. There's even some funny moments between Ethan's character and I can't remember the actor's name but in the movie his character is Deputy So & So (I kid you not, this is what he's called which I think is awesome).

The music is especially creepy as it should be. Might have to pick up the soundtrack at some point :)

The only thing that kept this movie from being perfect to me was the ending. Wasn't too crazy about it for reasons I can't say without giving away things. But they were very minor complaints. Nothing that should stop you from seeing it.

If you're looking for a great horror movie to watch this time of year, definitely go see Sinister. You won't be disappointed. Well done to all those involved :)

My Rating: 9/10

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Taken 2

When I first heard they were going to make a sequel to Taken (which was such an amazing movie) I said to myself, really? It's not necessary. But I knew I had to see it anyway. I'm glad I did :)

Taken 2 takes place not long after the events of the first movie. I'm guessing maybe a year. They never really say. Anyway, CIA operative Bryan Mills (played by the always amazing Liam Neeson) is working on an assignment in Istanbel, which oddly enough is right near where the first movie takes place. Not very smart if you ask me. Once he's done working, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) join him. What starts out as a nice little family vacation soon turns into a nightmare as Bryan and Lenore are kidnapped by a group of men led by the father of one of the men Bryan killed while trying to rescue his daughter in the first movie. He doesn't care that his son was an evil bastard who kidnapped young girls and sold them into slavery, he wants revenge. The guy is a complete moron. People should know by now- you DO NOT mess with Liam Neeson or his family.

That's pretty much it as far as the plot goes. The rest is just Liam Neeson kicking ass for an hour and a half. Not that I'm complaining of course ;)

I know Taken 2 is been getting a lot of negative reviews, but I really liked it. Is it as good as Taken? No, but I don't think it's as bad as they're saying.

This is pretty much your standard action movie. It's not one of those movies you go in expecting a great plot. But it's fun.

Obviously the best part of this movie is Liam Neeson. You can't get any more bad ass than him. It's hard to beleive he's 60 years old. I've seen actors half his age who can't do all the action sequences he does. And I don't care if he's old enough to be my father, I think he's gorgeous and would defenietly hook up with him if given the chance ;)

Obviously the movie isn't perfect. Aside from Liam the acting isn't great. Although Maggie Grace did improve some since the first movie which was good to see. The director (Oliver Megaton) used that god awful shaky cam technique which was a little nauseating at times. Although it wasn't as bad as other movies I've seen.

Bottom line, if you loved the first movie then you'll like this one. Just don't go in with high expectations. Even though I liked Taken 2, I hope they don't make anymore. I've seen way too many movie franchises ruined when they drag it out. Let this one end on a good note :)

My Rating: 8/10