Saturday, October 31, 2015

Steve Jobs

Every so often a movie comes along that is so good that I leave the theater afterward completely speechless. Steve Jobs is one of those movies. 

For those of you going into this expecting your typical biopic then you'll be very disappointed. It doesn't follow the usual rise, fall, and redemption story you're use to seeing. But I love the fact that it does something different. The movie instead mainly focuses on the behind the scenes of three major product launches in Steve Jobs' career- 1984's Macintosh, 1988's NeXT Computer, and 1998's iMac. You also get to see his relationship with his daughter Lisa who for years, despite a DNA test proving otherwise, denied he was her father. 

Another thing I love is that the movie doesn't shy away from the fact that Steve Jobs was not a very nice guy. A genius yes but still an asshole. He treated people like shit. The only one that can put up with him most of the time is marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). 

The movie is directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). The way he shot it makes it feel like a series of small plays which was a brilliant move. And he sure knows how to get great performances out of his actors. 

Of course, a lot of the credit has to go to Aaron Sorkins for his incredible screenplay. The dialog here is some of the best I've seen in a movie in years. 

And then there's Michael Fassbender. Wow! He sure is good at playing assholes. It just goes to show you too that you don't have to look like the person in order to make people believe you are them. Michael Fassbender doesn't look a damn thing like Steve Jobs. But from the moment the movie started I was sucked in by his performance. I'll tell you this much, if he doesn't win Best Actor this year then a big FUCK YOU to the Academy. 

One performance that really surprised me was Seth Rogen who played Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. There's a scene towards the end where his character calls Steve Jobs out on everything that made my jaw drop it was so good. I really hope he starts doing more dramas like this instead of those dumb comedies. 

I thought about it a lot and I honestly can't think of any flaws. It's a well made, well acted movie that I highly recommend people go out and support. 

My Rating: 10/10

Monday, October 26, 2015

Film Columbia 2015

22 movies in 7 days. I'm completely exhausted but it was totally worth it. This was my big vacation for the year. I had so much fun seeing movies and reuniting with some wonderful people. There were a lot of good movies this year and a few that were... not so good.

As I do every year with this, I'm not doing long reviews for each movie. For one thing I just don't have the time. The other thing is most of these movies haven't been released to the public just yet so I don't want to spoil things too much. I'm just going to give a few brief thoughts and then my rating. So here we go-


  • Wonderful movie set in 1912 about the early days of the British Woman's Suffrage Movement. Powerful performances especially by Carey Mulligan, who's sure to get a Best Actress nomination. My Rating: 9/10
Mia Madre:
  • A foreign movie about a director who has to cope with her dying mother while trying to deal with a crazy actor on the set of her latest film. The movie wasn't terrible, but aside from a few funny moments I just found myself bored. I didn't care too much about the characters either. My Rating: 7/10
Cemetery of Splendor:
  • This was such a chore to get through. I'm still not sure what it's even about. A few pretty scenes here and there overall it was a mess. Avoid this movie at all costs unless you have trouble falling asleep. My Rating: 3/10
Jack of the Red Hearts:
  • Sweet little movie starring Anna Sophia Robb as Jack, a troubled teen who poses as a caretaker and forms a close bond with a young autistic girl and her family. Great acting by all. A little sappy at times but overall it's very well made. My Rating: 8/10
 Louder Than Bombs:
  • Predictable movie starring Gabriel Byrne as a man struggling with his feeling about his wife's death and his relationship with his two sons played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid. Narrative could be seen as confusing to some. My Rating: 7.5/10 
45 Years:
  • British drama about a couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. The husband receives some shattering news and it changes the wife's perspective on their marriage. A little dull but the movie is pretty short. I thought the performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay were very believable. My Rating: 7/10
Very Semi Serious:
  • An interesting and funny documentary about artists who've had several of their cartoons featured in the New Yorker over the years. My Rating: 8/10
  • A documentary about the monsoon season in India. Okay overall but at times I questioned some of the direction. If you're an animal lover like me there's a scene that will really turn you off. My Rating: 6.5/10
The Lady in the Van:
  • Maggie Smith can do no wrong! Based on the play of the same name that also starred Maggie Smith about writer Alan Bennett and the bag lady who lived in her van in his driveway for 15 years. Good movie even with the slightly out there ending. My Rating: 8/10
Labyrinth of Lies:
  • Powerful drama based on a true story. A young prosecutor names Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling, who's amazing in this) who in 1963 brings many German guards serving  at Auschwitz during World War 2 to trial for murder. I strongly urge everyone to see this when it comes out. My Rating: 10/10
  • An old fashioned love story set in the 1950's about a young Irish immigrant played by Saoirse Ronan who is torn between her Italian American boyfriend and a nice Irish man from back home. They don't make many movies like this anymore which is a shame. My Rating: 9/10
Sweet Red Bean Paste:
  • A charming and surprisingly touching Japanese movie about an elderly woman who suddenly shows up to help a man, who runs a confectionery shop, perfect his red bean paste used in his pastries. This movie had me tearing up quite a bit. My Rating: 8.5/10
May Mountains Depart:
  • A love story/family drama told in 3 time periods- the late 90's, present day, and the near future. Has some really nice cinematography. However, I enjoyed the first two parts much more than I did the third. My Rating: 7/10
Measure of a Man: 
  • Vincent Lindon stars in this well made and very relevant French drama as a man who is unemployed and struggles to take care of his family, which includes his special needs son. My Rating: 8.5/10
  • The great Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford star as CBS producer Mary Mapes and anchor Dan Rather during their report that claimed that Bush Sr. used his influence to put Bush Jr. in the National Guard who then skirted his duties. I wasn't too impressed with Robert Redford's performance. However, Cate Blanchett really shines here. My Rating: 8/10
  • Has some similarities to Slumdog Millionaire but that's not a bad thing. Tells the story of three friends who accidentally find a wallet that has evidence to destroy a politician. The three leads are outstanding young actors. Hope they do well in the future. My Rating: 9/10
I Saw the Light:
  • I really wanted to like this movie but it's such a lazy attempt at a biopic. Tom Hiddleston plays legendary country singer Hank Williams. The only positive thing I can say is that he looks and sounds like him. Other than that Hiddleston is just doing a bad imitation. The editing was just awful and the movie had some of the worst dialog I've heard in a long time. Avoid this if you can. My Rating: 5/10
  • Delightful and at times funny movie directed by Jafar Panahi, who's been banned from making movies for 20 years in Iran for so called "propaganda against Islam". Yet somehow he's made three movies since his arrest. Such a pleasure to watch. My Rating: 9/10
  • This was the Saturday night surprise movie. So much better than last years. Directed by Tom McCarthy, it tells the true story of the Boston Globe and how they uncovered the huge scandal of child molestation and the cover up within the local Catholic Archdiocese. Great performances by Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci. As much as I love Mark Ruffalo, I felt like he was overacting here. My Rating: 8.5/10
Beyond Glory:
  • Stephen Lang stars in this one man performance based on his play where he brings to life the story of eight Medal of Honor winners. Very powerful. My Rating: 8/10
Son of Saul:
  • Boy this was a downer. Of course going into this knowing it was a Holocaust movie I expected it to be. Powerful movie. I just wish they had developed the main character more. My Rating: 7.5/10
Heart of a Dog:
  • I like to think I'm pretty open minded when it comes to movies. I'll watch just about any genre. I went into this expecting a cute movie about a dog. Instead I get some strange shit straight out of the Terrence Malick school of movies. Took everything in me not to walk out. How much did I hate this? Let me put it this way- I'd rather sit through all four of Michael Bay's Transformers movies while getting a root canal. My Rating: 2/10

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crimson Peak (IMAX)

Call me crazy, but I loved Guillermo del Toro's last movie Pacific Rim. In fact I've always been a fan of his work. I know I'm not the only one. So when I heard he was making this I knew I had to see it opening night. That and of course, Charlie Hunnam is in it. While I think I liked Pacific Rim just a little bit more, Crimson Peak is still a really good movie. 

Mia Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing, an aspiring author who has been able to see ghosts ever since the death of her mother years ago. She meets a mysterious outsider named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). After yet another family tragedy Edith marries Thomas and goes to live with him and Lucille in their home that is the very definition of a haunted house. Sensing something isn't right, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam)- Edith's friend since they were children and as you probably guessed is in love with her, begins to investigate. 

I'll say this about Guillermo del Toro, he sure knows how to make beautiful movies. Especially period pieces like this. And his attention to detail... Wow!! I can see why this movie took so long to make. 

The cast was just perfect. Jessica Chastain can't seem to give a bad performance. She's absolutely terrifying as Lucille. I found myself more scared of her than I was the ghosts. The ghosts to me were more creepy than they were scary. 

I know a lot of women will disagree with me, but I don't find Tom Hiddleston to be all that attractive. Don't get me wrong he's a great actor and he's very charming in this, but he just doesn't do anything for me. 

Charlie Hunnam on the other hand... Damn!! That man is just so gorgeous it isn't funny. The things I would do to him. He has more of a supporting role in this but he's really good. It made me want to yell at the screen at Mia Wasikowska, You idiot! You've got a great guy here who clearly loves you and you go for the creepy outsider instead? What the fuck is wrong with you??

I would've liked this movie even more had it not been so predictable. I was able to guess what the big reveals were very early on in the movie. I also found myself a little disappointed. Going into this I thought it would be more of a horror movie. Instead it ended up being a gothic romance. A very good gothic romance but still. 

Crimson Peak is the perfect movie to watch this time of year. I highly recommend you spend the extra money and see it in IMAX. And if you're a fan of Guillermo del Toro's previous movies, you'll enjoy this as well. 

My Rating: 8.5/10

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Everest (3D)

When I first heard they were making this movie I thought great, here's another movie about a bunch of dumbasses doing something crazy for no reason, shit happens but yet they somehow all manage to survive. Boy was I wrong! Everest is a wonderful movie that is not only visually stunning, but gives you a huge emotional punch in the gut. 

Everest is based on the true story of a group of climbers lead by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke). On May 10, 1996 they are about to make their final ascent to the summit of Mt. Everest. Suddenly, a huge storm hits. Facing extremely harsh conditions, the group struggles to survive against all odds. 

Director Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns, Contraband) has put together an amazing cast that includes not only Jason Clarke but- Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, and many more. While they don't look like their real life counterparts they do a good job portraying them. There are many times thought the movie however, where it is so snowy and windy that you have a hard time keeping track of who's who. It's very confusing but nothing that should stop you from seeing it. 

A lot of credit should go to the visual effects team. I'm not sure how much of it was filmed on actual locations and how much was green screen but it was beautiful. Especially when you see it in 3D. The 3D isn't as in your face as other movies, but it still makes you feel like you're on that mountain with them. Definitely worth the extra money. My only regret is that I didn't get a chance to see this in IMAX. I can only imagine how incredible it looks in that format. 

The movie is only about two hours long but it does drag a little. At the same time, it ends rather abruptly. Leaving you wanting just a few more minutes to deal with all the emotions brought on. If it wasn't for that I would have given this a perfect rating. 

Everest is a brilliant movie that I highly recommend. While there's no way in hell I would ever attempt climbing a mountain like that, I now have respect for people who do. Just be prepared- it's very much a downer. You'll want to go home afterward, put on Netflix and watch nothing but comedies just to cheer yourself up. If you can deal with that, go see this while it's still in theaters. 

My Rating: 9.5/10

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Martian

Wow! I knew this movie would be good judging by the amazing cast and from the trailers I've seen. The Martian exceeded all my expectations and is probably one of my favorite movies of the year so far. 

The Martian is based on a popular book written by Andy Weir. During a mission on Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a storm and is left behind by his crew (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, and Aksel Hennie). Using his intelligence and some supplies, Mark must struggle to survive on this dangerous planet and find a way to signal to Earth that he's alive. 

A lot of comparisons have been made to Gravity and yes, there are some similarities. But what surprised me with The Martian was that , unlike Gravity, it's really funny at times. I found myself laughing quite a bit. Another way it's different is you don't spend the whole movie with Matt Damon. You get to see what's happening on Earth as NASA tries to come up with a rescue mission as well as the crew who feels horrible for leaving him behind. 

Director Ridley Scott has created a visually stunning movie. Because the showtime worked out better, I ended up seeing in this in 2D. So I can't comment on the 3D. Just know that if you decide to see it in 2D it still looks amazing. 

Ridley has also put together a great cast. Of course a lot of this movie falls on Matt Damon's shoulders and boy does he pull it off. Which is no surprise to me since I've always been a big fan of his. The supporting cast does just as good a job and has a lot of chemistry. 

There's a lot of scientific talk and while I didn't understand it half the time, I was never bored. Those nearly two and a half hours just seemed to fly by. 

I was all set to give this movie a perfect rating but the more I thought about it, I do have one small complaint. Aside from a few moments, you never got the sense that Mark was in any real danger. He's able to come up with solutions to his problems almost too easily. It's nothing that should stop you from seeing the movie though. 

The Martian is an interesting, dramatic, and humorous movie that will have you on the edge of your seat. If you're into these types of movies I highly recommend it. 

My Rating: 9/10