Tag: Rachel McAdams

Disobedience

This is one of the many reviews that have come out of WorldFest in Houston. Check the WorldFest tag to see them all!

WorldFest isn’t known for its big releases. No, it is an independent movie festival, so seeing one of those giant movies that is going to win an Oscars would probably be very rare.

On that note, for the film Disobedience, it is probably the first time I heard of a movie months before I knew it would be at WorldFest. It was directed by Sebastián Lelio, who directed Gloria a few years ago (haven’t seen yet still, but a remake soon with him still at the helm for America), and A Fantastic Woman, which just won best foreign film.

Needless to say, I was excited about his next film. Hell, very provocative posters for this film have gone up and maybe that is why it is famous (okay, that is the reason). Let’s bring on the sexy times.

Group
Nothing sexier than candles, flames, beards, and dark clothing.

The story opens up with Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) is giving a sermon about the differences between Man, Angels, and Beasts, and the idea of choice. Oh, this is totally a synagogue as well, very very conservative Jewish. Somewhere in Great Britain, a little local community. The women sitting on the second story only. And then he goes and dies.

His one and only daughter, Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) is living in NYC. She left the community she grew up in, abandoned her family, to live alone. She is a bit of disgrace. No one talks to her anymore. But someone sent a message through the grapevine that her father was dead, their Rabbi and spiritual leader, so she heads back over ready to face her past and her peers.

The ceremonies take place at the home of Dovid Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola), Rav’s spiritual son, whom he took in when he was in his teen years to begin his devout training, so sort of a brother to Ronit. He is now married to Esti (Rachel McAdams), a big shocker to Ronit. They invite her to stay in their guest room while she deals with her father’s loss and the annoyance from the community.

We learn of course that some members of the group had an intense past. This past is why Ronit ended up leaving their community, seemingly never to return. How dare she mess that up, right?

Kiss
Rachel and Rachel standing on a street. R-A-C-H-E-L-I-N-G.

Setting this in a conservative Jewish community with very little out of it first took me awhile to figure out where this film was set. It is a modern film, it just took until the last 20-30 minutes before someone pulled out a cell phone for any reason. It could have been in the 60’s/70’s, or it could have been modern, given their conservative nature, who knows!

The three main leads give really good acting performances. Weisz is the powerhouse here, Nivola has his moments at the end, and for the most part McAdams is a quiet force building over time. They all feel very vulnerable and real in their roles, giving an extra umph to the story.

It just took forever for the story to really grow and move forward. It was definitely boring. I am fine with a slow burn story, but it was hard to keep my eyes open early on and even by the end there was still some struggles.

I like that we got an in depth look at a community that is old dealing with “modern issues”, and it seems to be something that the director is playing with lately. It is something worth being told, but the payout doesn’t feel necessarily worth it.

2 out of 4.

Game Night

The first trailer I saw for Game Night, I sort of knew I was hooked.

If anything, I would love to watch a movie about people who like to just play games. Board games and party games. I knew they wouldn’t get into the nitty gritty of great games, but any positive spin on board games is good in my book.

And yeah, sure, comedy and death. The other two things that go great with a nice game night amongst couples and friends.

Policeman
And puppies. All gamers love puppies.

Max (Jason Bateman) met Annie (Rachel McAdams) on a trivia night at a bar. They were both captains of different teams, kicking ass, and knowing the same questions. It was love at first sight.

Over the years their competitive nature took them many places. Mostly to their living room, hanging out with friends and loved ones, playing games of skill and chance, and eventually getting married! But if there is one game they are not succeeding at, it is the whole pregnancy thing. Max cannot perform on that level.

And the doctors think it could be performance anxiety. It turns out that Max has a more successful older brother (Kyle Chandler). I mean, he looks better, he is richer, he wins all of the games against his brother, and just his life is so fucking awesome. And when the brother shows up, he wants to beat him at hosting duties as well.

He throws his own game night, with alcohol, and a game where people will come and abduct one of the guests! They have to follow the clues to find the kidnapped victim first, and the winning pair will win a goddamn car. Yeah, his game night is way cooler. Unfortunately, the brother was into some hardcore bad stuff. And the kidnappers this night are real, just the rest of the party won’t realize it until things are too deep.

Also starring Chelsea Peretti, Danny Huston, Michael C. Hall, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemens, Sharon Horgan, and Billy Magnussen.

Gun
“I throw my hands and guns in the air, like wayooooo!”

Bateman and McAdams play a delightful couple, who really care about each other and generally want each other to succeed. They aren’t perfect and they have disagreements, especially in the family department, but they work through it, they communicate, and they have a good time in the face of adversary.

In many ways, their coupling in this film is one of the best couples I have seen lately, outside of TV. TV usually has a lot more happy couples. Movie couples tend to have divorces. And that is a lot of words on just how great of a couple they are.

The film ended up disappointing me on the levels of shenanigans that were promised by the trailer. Honestly, everyone found out the truth of the situation way too early. If they could have had the characters think it was a game and really realistic for longer periods, there could have have been some much longer and happier jokers. But the jokes were too few and far in between.

Sure the overall movie is still amusing, or even cute. There are intense scenarios, surprise cameos, and twists you might not see coming. But these twists are more done for twist reasons, and don’t really end up making a lot of sense.

Game Night if anything has a lot of heart and can be a good time for those who watch it. It just doesn’t have any sort of repeatability factor and cannot live up to its plot potential.

2 out of 4.

Doctor Strange

Feeling weird? Then you haven’t felt enough, yet.

I have been waiting probably at least five years for a Doctor Strange movie to grace our screens, holding onto every casting rumor. I was straight up distraught when it was pseudo announced that Joaquin Phoenix would play as the titular hero before casting fell through. I knew that he wasn’t the kind of guy to sign multi year deals and wouldn’t want to fully embrace being a super hero.

Which also explains why I was so excited when Cumberbatch was signed on. Given his role as Sherlock and what I have seen it just made since based on what I had seen of the character in other forms of media. Being a complete Cumberbunny helped of course as well, I’d watch him in basically anything.

Note, despite waiting for this film for years, I am not some weird expert on Doctor Strange. I first saw him in the 90’s Spiderman cartoon and just instantly thought he was pretty cool. Then I keep abreast on him every once in a while to see what kind of shenanigans he is up to and that is about it. That’s right, zero comics read with him as the lead.

Spirit Punch
This falcon punch gets you right in the feels.

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is about the world famous egotist and neurosurgeon, Stephan Strange. He is arrogant, cocky, and other words that mean those same things. But he is also extremely intelligent. One of those guys with photographic memory and all of that, so the cockiness comes with the territory. Well, these character flaws lead him to an accident, where his body is broken and his hands are practically shattered. Fuck!

Not being able to really bend your knuckles and stop your hands from shaking makes it hard to be a surgeon and his life begins to deteriorate. After chasing cure after cure, he finally submits based on a rumor of a past patient and heads to Nepal to find a mystical healing place called Kamar-Taj. There he meets The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), the Sorcerer Surpreme who eventually is willing to teach Strange the Dark Arts. He only wants to heal his hands, they want him to protect the world from other universes.

He also meets her second in command, Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and the master of the library Wong (Benedict Wong). Needless to say, his intelligence gets him far, but his attitude gets him into some tough situations, including dealings with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former trainee who wants to take out the Ancient One and release the world into utter darkness. You know, the usual.

We also have Rachel McAdams as an ER doctor / sometimes love interest, Michael Stuhlbarg as a surgeon to be the butt of Strange’s jokes, Scott Adkins as generic bad guy fighter, and Benjamin Bratt playing basketball to remind us all of Catwoman.

Cape
Oh an the Cape is played by Andy Serkis.

Rarely do I make this recommendation, but with a movie like Doctor Strange it practically begs you to watch it on the biggest screen you can with those incredibly annoying 3D Glasses. It is just so goddamn pretty and there is so many details going on, it would be a shame for your eyes to have them all squished together and miss them. And yes, that means don’t download this in the future and watch it on your shitty laptop, damn it.

In terms of actual movie plots, this is a fun and interesting super hero movie. We are in a new direction! We finally have magic, something the MCU has been adamant in avoiding as much as possible (especially given the direction they took Iron Man 3).

Strange is certifiable jerk, asshole, and badass all in one. When I first heard their intention was for him to replace Iron Man as the face of the Avengers after Phase 3, I could only barely believe it, but after seeing the film it makes a lot of sense. I can’t imagine Downey Jr. surviving Thanos, let us just say that.

Wong was a fun addition, Ejiofor and Mikkelson’s characters could have been more fully fledged out, and Swinton was a unique choice as a Celtic Ancient One. Of course, we also have McAdams in here as a love interest, making this the FOURTH movie in her career where she is the love interest of someone who has time altering abilities. What a god damn oddly specific type cast. The other three are The Time Traveler’s Wife, Midnight in Paris, and About Time.

Doctor Strange is visually stunning, funny, and complete with amazing battle scenes and a decent ending. I will also note I almost flipped out over the mid credits scene in surprise. It isn’t the best super hero movie, but it is a damn good start and I can’t wait to see the character in future films.

Oh and a warning. It does feature the cringey line of “Forget everything you think you know,” a line that is literally never spoken by a real person ever.

3 out of 4.

The Little Prince

I have never read or heard The Little Prince book before, but that because I had an empty childhood. Just kidding, I had Pokemon and that was enough for me.

I did, however, play a board game The Little Prince: Make Me A Planet before though. Only once. And like, three years ago. But it apparently stuck with me, so that many elements present in the game I was able to remember and notice in the actual film version of The Little Prince.

But let’s get to the issue. This took way too long to get released in America. It was released in the summer of 2015 last summer in France! Agh! Not America! It was supposed to be released by Paramount in March in America, but a week before release they suddenly decided to drop it from their schedule as well. No news on distribution or eventually released. Sometime later, the pros at Netflix said they would handle it and gave it a nice worldwide release, finally in America and other countries. All hail Netflix, bringer of tales, singer of stories.

Prince Prince
They took one long look at the script and declared the crazy old writer to be a genius!

As you would have guessed from the title, The Little Prince is a story about a girl. The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) is being pressured by her mom (Rachel McAdams) to get into a very good school for kids. The interview does not go well, so they decide to move into a house in the school’s neighborhood, getting in by proxy. The girl’s whole life is scheduled by the mom, to ensure future academic and financial success.

The reason they were able to get the house is because it was next to a shoddy house. In the house lived an old man, an aviator (Jeff Bridges). He was constantly fiddling with his plane and making a racket. Eventually The girl goes and talks to him, finds out he also is an artist. Over time, he tells her the story of his encounter with The Little Prince (Riley Osborne), a boy who lived on a planet barely big enough for a single person.

The aviator learns of his travels around the galaxy, learns some life lessons and so on. And you know what? The little girl is going to learn some lessons of her own.

Also featuring the voice work of Marion Cotillard, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Giamatti, and Albert Brooks.

Modern
“Trust me little girl, I’ve got a beard!”

The Little Prince was unlike most other animated films. Yes, it is accessible to families and kids of all ages, but it seems like something an adult would learn more from than their kids. We have a story within a story, where the inner story is the normal The Little Prince story. The added elements of the overworked girl are completely original and the entire last third act is all about her and her own adventure.

I was worried that it would be too complex for kids but a 5 and 6 year old seemed to enjoy it throughout, despite the slower beginning. The layered stories kept me interested, but the ending wasn’t as good as the beginning and middle.

The animation was different for the different story parts as well, with the animation for The Little Prince segment being unique and fantastic. The rest of the animation is pretty standard CGI and a bit uninspiring. It makes sense for the animation to be different, but one would hope that the animation for the majority of the film was just standard.

The Little Prince is still worth your time, although book elitists may get annoyed at the extra material. My only real annoyance was that the new material wasn’t as interesting in the very end and that the animation was a bit uninspiring in an otherwise inspiring story.

3 out of 4.

Spotlight

I love journalism movies. You may not know it, but I used to be a journalist. Yes, sure, 99% of my articles were reviews for a few papers, but damn it, I worked in the newsroom, I discussed articles occasionally, and I wrote at least one article on my own about a non movie thing.

But you know what is even sexier than journalism? Investigative journalism! You know, the journalism that requires investigations! Weeks to months to potentially years of digging around, looking for scoops, talking to witnesses, etc. That is like modern detective work, but where the pay is shit and you are only working for the greater good (or whatever).

Movies like All The President’s Men and Shattered Glass are examples of interesting or even great films that go through the real life process. Maybe some dramatization, but damn it, the facts are there! Spotlight is a new film, also about true events, and about the team that brought them to the public.

Work
You can tell they are a real newspaper because they are actually working and not throwing footballs around.

The year is 2001! Don’t worry, September hasn’t happened yet. It is just summer time. You can tell it is a different time and place by the giant ass AOL billboard in the film. In Boston, life is pretty damn normal. People work, people go to church, people get drunk, eyyyyy Bawston. The Boston Globe is like a lot of other papers, they are worried about the internet taking away a lot of their jobs and trying to change things up. So they bring in this single, Jewish guy from Miami, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). He is not a Bostonian, however a lot of the paper happens to be from the area. This really gives them a sense of purpose and makes them think they are helping their community, so they are worried about a non Catholic outsider coming in and doing bad things.

And guess what he wants to do? He wants to…make sure the paper matters for the community. Oh okay, that sounds good. But he wants to also do some follow ups on a story he read about. Some priest had apparently been molesting kids for years, but the paper only ran a couple articles on him. He wants follow up and research. So he puts the Spotlight crew on it. A four person team who does the longer projects on it. Lead by Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) who has been with the paper forever, he also has on his team Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James).

But can they really do that? Can they (what most people would see it as) wage war on the church? They all grew up Catholic and have that culture ingrained in their subconscious? Could it really be a bigger issue and something everyone just turned a blind eye towards?

Also featuring James Sheridan, Billy Crudup, Neal Huff, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci.

Group
This was definitely not a real scene from the film, but boy is it convenient to showcase the actors.

When the credits began to role, I had the biggest investigative journalism movie boner ever. That shouldn’t sound graphic or surprising, because that is an oddly specific thing to say and thus doesn’t mean a lot.

I wanted to go out, quit my job (hah!) and become a journalist again to save the world from bad people. I wanted to call strangers and find out information. I wanted to jostle notes on a small pad of paper while people talked. Oh okay, I technically already do that during movies, but I want to be able to do it when I can also see the paper well and not in a dark room.

Spotlight is a unique story where everyone knows how it will end, but the journey is so fascinating that it still can keep the tense moments. Sure, we know the article gets published, but you can still let out a small fist bump when everything finally comes together, happy that justice and journalism finally win despite the enormous pressures to fail. This is some of the best acting I’ve seen from Ruffalo, Keaton, and Schreiber. Maybe second best for all three. I think they are better in Infinitely Polar Bear, Birdman, and Goon, respectfully.

If there is any weak point in this film, it has to be Slattery. His character just felt like he was a cartoon, being a weird sometimes foil, sometimes not, maybe bad guy, maybe not. It was frustrating with little to no payout.

But outside of that, go see Spotlight, go see some sexy reporting, and damn it, support your local paper.

4 out of 4.

Aloha

It has been awhile since I have seen a film set mostly in Hawaii. Godzilla, Big Eyes, Battleship all had elements in Hawaii. But the last full on Hawaiian film was The Descendants and it was really fucking good. So if I compare all films set in Hawaii, Aloha has to have some pretty big strides to catch up to the top.

And it has to do it with controversy!

What controversy? Well, casting controversy of course. The last films to receive this much internet anger was The Last Airbender and Exodus: Gods and Kings, but to be fair, they received criticism for more than just casting choices. In this film, Emma Stone, a very white woman plays a Hawaiin. Why is that an issue? Because internet people claim white people can’t be Hawaiian of course.

Oh, they mean native Hawaiian. Fair point, sure. But she is also playing someone who is just a quarter Hawaiian, so one of her parents is only half Hawaiian, and fuck everybody she could totally qualify as someone who is a quarter Hawaiian. Saying she doesn’t look it enough is stupid complaint when she is claiming barely any Hawaiian ancestry. Just because she isn’t in real life quarter Hawaiian doesn’t mean she can’t play one on a movie and be believable. It is called mother fucking Acting. Damn it.

Adams
This looks like they were photoshopped next to each other, their chemistry is so nonexistent.

Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) used to be a great military person, and then he left! Turns out the military pays close to jack in pay, so he sold his skills to a private contractor, Carson Welch (Bill Murray) who wants to go to outer space! Brian loves space and wants to go one day. I think. Either way, he heads to Hawaii for a few days, where he used to be a big deal. People told stories about him. Blah blah blah.

He is happy to be back. For whatever reason, Allison Ng (Stone) is being assigned to follow him and help him out on his meetings. She is in in the military and young but full of spunk.

Fuck. I am dying typing out this review. The movie was so boring. Here are the only other important plot points.

Brian and Tracy (Rachel McAdams) used to have a thing like 12 years ago. They make it VERY obvious that her oldest daughter is his kid. But she is married now to Woody (John Krasinski) and they have at least one more kid. So hopefully they don’t rekindle anything, would be dickish. At the same time, Allison starts to like Brian. There is also a big controversy over the native Hawaiians and using their land to send rockets into space, as they are worried it will end badly.

Also featuring Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride is a full fledged military men!

Stone
The sexual tension is high when Cooper looks apathetic while coding.

What the hell happened to you Cameron Crowe? Seriously? What in the fuck? He gave us Say Anything…, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous! These are good to great movies right? Because the last thing before this one was We Bought A Zoo which was incredibly average in every single way.

And now? Now we have Aloha. Which sure had controversy which I gave no cares about. What I care about is a good entertaining movie, but Aloha is neither good nor entertaining. While watching, I couldn’t help but wait for the point of the movie to come across. Are the military supposed to be bad? Are private contractors? They sort of answer it by the end, but it almost seems like that was an after thought despite allegedly being the main plot line. What is more annoying is that most of the conflict in the end also seemingly comes out of nowhere. And it is resolved with a couple lines of dialogue, again, as an after thought.

As for the relationship angle, one never really goes anywhere and the other is also extremely forced. It is like all of the actors involved are just uncomfortable the whole movie. No one has a desire to be great in this film, it is probably just a quick paycheck for everyone and a free trip to Hawaii. You know, the Adam Sandler reason for acting. Not even Kenny Fucking Powers can save this movie, because he might be in 3 scenes. Maybe. Everything is wasted in this film that is technically quite full of talent and entertaining people. I’m going to go watch The Descendants again.

0 out of 4.

Southpaw

Hold up your hands. Now bend your hands back a little bit and curl your fingers. Then use this hand position to hit someone in the face, with the bottom part of your palm. That is what I thought Southpaw was before this movie.

Southpaw didn’t actually teach me what a Southpaw was, I had to find out after the fact. Apparently it is just a mainly left handed boxer though, instead of the normal right handed boxer. Oh well.

Either way, the main reason I was interested in this film was to see a buff Jake Gyllenhaal. We had glimpses of it in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but no one wanted to see that movie for some reason. The best part about the muscles put on by Gyllenhaal is that he did it right after starring in Nightcrawler, where he famously lost a lot of weight and has scrawny body.

Look out everyone. Gyllenhaal is now willing to do potential future harm to his health to give it his all in these roles.

RAGEEE
And he is excited to do it!

Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) has got it all. He is undefeated, over 40 wins to his name! He is the lightweight champion of the world! He has friends, a loving wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), a daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence), a mansion, a lifelong manager friend/promoter (50 Cent), and fat filthy stacks of cash.

But he wasn’t given these things. He had to work hard. He was an orphan, raised in the foster care system. So was his wife! So were all his friends. From nothing they created something great, and now with all the hits to the head, there is a chance he could lose it all if he keeps taking a beating. His wife wants him to live to see their daughter grow up, a fair request. So sure, maybe he should retire.

Not everyone is down with his retirement though. Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) claims he is the best at the sport, but Billy won’t give him a chance. Miguel needs to beat the best to claim he is the best, so he starts a public taunting event to get Billy to commit. But when the taunting gets too personal, events quickly escalate and a pretty bad thing happens. I honestly don’t know if the bad thing was said in the spoiler, so I will avoid saying it.

Needless to say, post “bad thing”, Billy won’t get to live out the rest of his life as planned. Depression, loss of wealth, drugs, all of these things bring Billy down. After he loses everything, then, maybe then, he can turn his life around with an old gym owner (Forest Whitaker) and living on the streets.

Also featuring Naomie Harris, Skylan Brooks, and Beau Knapp.

Girl Face
Billy was eventually defeated by a KO from his daughter, quite embarrassingly.

Southpaw left me an emotional wreck. Notably important, I have a wife and I have a daughter, so despite not growing up on the streets or being athletic in any way, I found myself relating really heavily with the main character. All the bad things that happened to him I could imagine happening to me, so I was on the same wavelength from minute 1 and on.

Southpaw isn’t a revolutionary story. It has some normal boxing movie moments, maybe even cliches if you will. It wasn’t going for Warrior (shut up, I know it wasn’t boxing, close enough). But what elevates Southpaw is in the incredible acting.

Everyone was on point in this film. Gyllenhaal gave a complete performance, transforming himself into a new person. The film was originally going to star Eminem as the titular role, as a spiritual sequel to 8 Mile. Obviously Eminem wasn’t a champion boxer, but the whole film would be a metaphor for what was going on in his life and his own struggles. It was actually easy to imagine him playing the role early on, but I don’t think he could have pulled off the more emotional and intense parts of the film in the middle and end.

McAdams is in a lot of movies that make me cry, but she is never the reason for the tears. This time McAdams made me cry, who gave one of her best performances. It took awhile to get used to it, but it worked. Whitaker also gives his best performance in years, doing well on the drunk ramblings. It was nice to see after a few pretty bad and cheap movies in a row. And of course, Laurence as the daughter did an amazing job. She conveyed emotions through her eyes like a seasoned pro, with only one of her scenes feeling a bit cheesy.

Southpaw is a movie about a family and boxing. Broken down it is awkward: Boxer’s life turned upside down due to boxing, only way to fix it is more boxing. But the acting and characters make it an incredible film experience.

4 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

A Most Wanted Man

I hope I am not a wanted man. To be more specific, I don’t want to be wanted for like, violent awkward crimes and have to go on the run. I wouldn’t mind being wanted for my dashing good lucks, charismatic hair, or my sweet sweet movie trivia skills.

I definitely wouldn’t want to be wanted after I am dead either. Like, you know, Philip Seymour Hoffman. A Most Wanted Man is apparently his last leading role that he had completed post death, so just like fucking Brick Mansions, it will definitely increase the sales by some amount.

Clearly this will be a film about terrorism though, based on the title. Terrorism. So hot right now.

Dead Man
Definitely one of the most impressive “investigation walls” I have ever seen.

This movie is set in the world famous Hamburg, Germany, known for its tasty mountains of meat that appear every few blocks. More importantly, an Al Qaeda terrorist cells was in Hamburg in secret, which eventually lead to some of its members becoming key operatives in the 9/11 Terrorist attacks. Who would have thought such a magical place would have such terrible atrocities associated with it?

Because of their terror issues, Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) leads a German espionage team who have been surveillancing the local Muslim community. One of those fool me once sort of situations. Which some how leads them to Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a Chechen who has snuck into Hamburg. Chechens are the new North Korea.

Issa is using an immigration lawyer (Rachel McAdams) to help him out. Apparently his dad has a large sum of money in a bank (run by Willem Dafoe) and he wants to get it, but he is an illegal citizen.

Günther and his team have heard from Russia that he is associated with terrorism. And now he wants a large sum of money. They also have a suspect, Dr. Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who they believe is funneling money into groups but without any proof. Hmm. This is very interesting again.

Some terrorism shit must be going down!

Also featuring Rainer Bock, Robin Wright, and Daniel Brühl.

reporter
A most wanted lawyer, amirite?

A Most Wanted Man ends up being a sort of political thriller/drama. But is it the political drama/thriller that we need or deserve? That question doesn’t really make sense.

To me, I am a bit disappointed by the film. I liked the plot, it had a bunch going for it, but in the end, it felt like it was going too slow for me. The acting was fine, not spectacular. The plot ended up being only fine as well.

I am also finding it hard to really explain what in particular I liked and didn’t like. Again, only because the film seemed to drag. Not to imply that I have any form of adult ADHD, but I just wish more happened throughout the film instead of a lot of waiting.

It is an okay movie, but not Hoffman’s best work. At least it is better than Brick Mansions.

2 out of 4.

About Time

I am afraid I am going to turn into a total fanboy of Richard Curtis. He is the director of About Time, but before that he also directed Pirate Radio and Love Actually. Two movies that I could watch again and again and gave high marks to. Let’s just say I went into About Time with a bit of a bias.

Love
A bit of a bias, and a bit of a romance-boner. Mmmm, love.

Time travel in movies can be a hard topic to get right. There are many ways they can set up the time travel concept, but the hard part comes in being consistent and still following the rules they set up logically. Plenty of bad films fail at this, About Time keeps it consistent and follows its rules throughout.

Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) was living a loveless and sad life until he learned a family secret. Before then, he always felt like he was missing something. That is when his dad (Bill Nighy) informed him that the men in his family can travel through time once they hit 21. A genetic condition or something.

They can’t go to the future and they can’t travel anywhere in time, but they can revisit moments in their own life, as long as they can remember that moment. They can relive them just for the experience, or they can change their actions, if they dare. Pretty awesome, but also very dangerous. They have to worry about the Butterfly Effect, so the changes can’t be too drastic. Once Tim makes his first trip, he knows exactly how he will use his new power. For love.

He quickly learns that using time travel to make someone love you doesn’t really work. No, he still has to find someone who finds him generally interesting, like the American Mary (Rachel McAdams). For whatever reason, she thinks he is charming, he just uses the time travel to fix his awkwardness. After all, practice makes perfect.

The good news is that this movie deals with more than just romance. Traveling through time gives an individual a lot of power, the power to affect the lives of those around you in meaningful ways. But could you morally handle the pressure of interfering with your friend’s life, instead of letting them choose their own destiny? Can you cope with the death of a loved one, if you know you have the ability to just visit them again in the past over and over again?

Celebrations
On the other hand, if you had some really sweet cake, you could always go back to that too.

By the end of the movie, I found myself crying as it attempted to tackle these hard subjects. About Time doesn’t fall into the same cliches that other films of the genre get caught up with. A lot of comparisons are being made between this movie and The Time Traveler’s Wife, and not just because Rachel McAdams is the the main love interest in both. They deal with love and time travel, but in completely different ways. The Time Traveler’s Wife was sad, but purely a drama/romance. About Time has equal parts drama and comedy, while dealing with more than just love, but life in general.

Gleeson hasn’t been in a lot of movies, and he currently is known for playing Bill Weasley in the later Harry Potter films, but he was a great choice as the lead role. He had a lot of help of course, with Nighy, a staple in Richard Curtis movies playing his father, his guide to the world of time travel, and the main source of drama in the final act. McAdams is really sweet in this film, and plays a character quite different than any of her previous roles. I also enjoyed the mother (Lindsay Duncan) and the sister (Lydia Wilson).

Overall, I think About Time will turn out to be one of those films that I can watch again and again, possibly getting something new out of it after every viewing. My opinions on it will also probably change as I get older, and experience events that the movie touches upon. It is a charming movie in every way. Thank you Richard Curtis, consider me a total fanboy now.

4 out of 4.

To The Wonder

To The Wonder is another movie I accidentally waited a long time to see. It is that video on demand stuff, I tell ya. It came out in APRIL, and I realized a month later I could see it. Very exciting. After all, I knew the actors in it.

I also knew that it was Roger Ebert’s last review. Pretty fucking exciting. Then just like every other damn video on demand movie, I forgot about it and look where I am now. Reviewing it after it comes out on DVD, like a chump. Sigh.

Beach
Life’s a beach, and then you’re Ben Affleck.

The movie begins in France. Huzzah! Neil (Ben Affleck) is a non descriptive American traveling in Europe. While there, he meets a Ukranian woman, Marina (Olga Kurylenko), and her daughter Tatiana. They fall in love, kind of, especially at this place: the Mont Saint-Michel. Aka, where that picture from above is taken.

So he invites her back to the US with her daughter to the wonderful land of Oklahoma. Because when I think of the US, I think Oklahoma.

By now you will realize something about this film. There is a lot of beautiful imagery. There is a lot of voice over in another language (woo subtitles). There is a lot of not talking. Huh? Yeah. The characters don’t really talk. There is little to none actual dialogue in this movie. Ben Affleck almost has more words spoken in Clerks II, which is shocking.

For whatever reason (I guess we get to make one up), Neil is afraid of marriage, so eventually Marina gets sent back to France. Neil is left doing some vague environment work with problems that vaguely hurt the poor people. He rekindles with Jane (Rachel McAdams) who has had a recent rough past, and loves her up too. Just no marriage.

Marina has a bad time in France. Loses her daughter to her ex-husband, has no job. But eventually finds her way back in Oklahoma, with the man she loved before.

Also, there is a priest, Father Quintana (Javier Bardem). He is important? Somehow?

Church
See? He gets his own cool artsy shots and stuff.

Fuck. What in the fuck. Artsy movies sometimes really piss me off, when they go all art and no…substance? I want to say substance. It seems harsh, but it feels appropriate.

I found out there wasn’t a real script for this movie. Just an idea. Which explains how the entire thing is void of any real dialogue, minus one scene between Rachel and Ben. The actors were told to use body language and act a much as possible. You know what happens when you only use body language? A lot of strange scenes where two people are standing near each other, but looking off to the sunset or the hills, and then back at each other, then back at the scenery. All spliced together with other imagery.

Gah. I should I have paid attention to the director. Terrence Malick. I’ve reviewed one other movie from him. The Tree Of Life. A very polarizing movie, with good imagery, that people either loved or hated. I wonder if this is the same? I’ve actually only heard negative things, but I still wanted to watch for Ben.

Yes. A lot of the movie is visually pleasing, but I don’t want to see characters stand around during voice overs for two hours in pretty scenery. It is just not worth it.

The fact that I could write that plot summary only came thanks to the wikipedia article on it. Without it being explained, a lot of it just seemed up in the air and for anyone to interpret as they would like. I interpreted it as a shitty movie.

0 out of 4.