Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
There are still a lot of movies for me to watch, so this list might get updated.
Berlin Syndrome (2017)
Teresa Palmer has finally found a role for her to shine.
In this independent, psychological, semi-horror film we meet Claire, a young and aspiring Australian journalist who has come to Berlin to take pictures of the of the spectacular DDR architecture. During her trip she meets a German English teacher with whom she hooks up. But when she wakes up the next morning, she realizes that that was a big mistake
The directing was fantastic. Cate Shortland used a lot of close ups with heavy focus to capture the isolation of Clare, but by doing that she also accentuated the amazing acting of Teresa Palmer. We were able to see what was going on in her head and that again proves how fantastic Palmer was. Shortland was able to create some very good tension which made the film a very edge on your seat film at times. Whilst this is a horror film, Shortland managed to create one without any of the horror clichés. There were neither jump scares nor a ton of gore; she was able to create tension with fantastic editing techniques and an intrusive soundtrack. Sometimes she breaks the tension up by having a slow motion montage, which gave the movie its needed breathing room. The realistic atmosphere set up by Shortland helped to create tension since it's so believable and could happen to any of his while abroad. There's quite some sexual content in the film and she made them feel very uneasy to watch. She also didn't use them as a tool to go watch the film, which I really like, because there are a lot of films that get their audience to watch a film solely because of scenes like that. The scenes in this movie however are not as "sexy" as you might think. The score's unsettling and so is the subject material and I found it to be handled wonderfully.
Teresa Palmer has never really been able to make me see her character on screen rather than just Teresa Palmer. In I am Number Four she failed to amaze me, but I think that we all can agree on the fact that the whole film failed to amaze its audience. Even in movies like Hacksaw Ridge I never really found her to be good. I was however able to see some potential in her role in that film. And then Berlin Syndrome passed by. And by god was she fantastic. At first I was still pretty skeptical, but after the first ten minutes she had sold me. Palmer had a difficult task to become her character and she really did that well. For the first time in her career I didn't see her, but I saw Clare. And this acting job was far from easy. Clare's a complex and multi layered character that undergoes quite some character progression and changes, which is to be expected when you've been held captive for more or less nine months by a psychopath who doesn't even realize he is one and even denies the fact. The characters were by the way really good and well thought out.
I also liked that the film didn't see its audience as stupid. It doesn't take it's time to explain what's going on. They don't explain the ideas Palmer has or how long she's been there. There's almost no exposition whatsoever and I loved that. It's like a breath of fresh air in today's movie industry which basically exists out of exposition. And it's not hard to figure out what's going on if you were paying attention, but if you were paying attention you'd have noticed that there's quite a lot of foreshadowing in the beginning of the film, which is the only downside to this film in my opinion. I know that the character of Clare is naïve in the beginning, I get that, but there are so many foreshadow moments when Clare just should've gotten the hint, which she time and time again didn't.
The characters were the main focus of the film. It's a real character study and I'm a sucker for character focused films. The film set's up Clare nicely by giving her a few character traits from the beginning. She's open to new things and new cultures; she's always willing to do something new. This character trait's also the one that'll bring her into trouble. At the moment she's captured however, the real character study starts. We're looking at what isolation and loneliness can do to someone. And since everything's handled so realistically it's painful to see her suffer. Not only was it a character study on Clare, but also on her capturer, Andi, masterfully played by Max Riemelt. It was interesting to see a man with these psychological disorders and I liked that they also showed how he acted towards his friends/colleagues and family, because just by those little conversations you could pick up that he's a psychopath, but only because you already know he is one. His colleagues don't pick up on it, because to them it's just another conversation with Andi, who just has some weird character traits. This character too had some real depth and it was captured wonderfully by Max Riemelt who managed to give a multi-layered performance.
In the end this was a very good psychological thriller that managed to keep me engaged throughout. There were some fantastic performances, notably of Teresa Palmer, who really got her time to shine. That's why this film get's a 9.1/10
Serbuan Maut (2011)
A good action film, but just a decent film overall
The Raid is a simple story about a SWAT team that has been sent out to take down the infamous criminal Toma, who's the owner of an apartment building filled with thugs. After the team has arrived and got into this tenement, they become trapped inside the building and escaping the building seems to be harder than it was to get into
This film was directed very well by Gareth Evans who created a good looking movie, well, good not necessarily good-looking color wise as they made the color grading look very dirty to capture the dark atmosphere. The framing though was really good. This is an action film as you could've guessed, so it's bound to have fighting sequences, and since this movie is praised specifically for that part, I was expecting quite a lot of this. And, did it surpass my expectations? Absolutely. They were amazing. This movie is worth watching just for the action scenes, something you don't hear a lot these days. The director obviously loved the martial arts used in the film and he translates that very well to the big screen. Gareth Evans, the director, was also keen on his use of edits as he at times didn't cut away from the action for a couple of seconds and created these amazing fighting sequences that had a fantastic flow to them. He was also able to keep these scenes easy to follow, also something not a lot of movies do right these days, by having the camera stay steady and don't cut every second. It's been a while since I've seen a movie where the stunt work was as good as it is in this one and The Raid deserves all the credit it's getting for having the best fight choreography. The whole film was practically one big action scene with some intermissions, so it would've been a shame if the action scenes were not as good as they are now. There were also these dumb moments (the fridge scene), but the film knows that those scenes are silly and they don't try to take themselves serious, which is always a good thing for a movie to do. The make-up and set design were all pretty good considering the low budget they had the work with.
But those intermissions brought some problems to the table. The film has a pretty fast pace throughout the film, but stops abruptly every time there's an intermission in which they try to develop characters. I don't mind that they develop their characters, since I like to see a movie with well-rounded characters that feel like real people, but the problem is that the writing in those scenes just wasn't that good. They were mostly clichéd, like the opening sequence in which they want us to relate to the main character, but ultimately fail at doing that, because they use a technique that has been done a million times before, which is a real shame. Throughout the movie thought there are some actions he does whereby we get to know him for a bit, it's just those moments when the movie abruptly comes to a stop where the problem lays.
The acting was pretty good though and they set up the villain nicely with the use of only one scene. His acting was really good and he came over really menacing. Iko Uwais, who played the protagonist, his acting was really good and because of this he made his character feel more real than the writing itself did. I did like that the characters each had their vulnerabilities to them and that they affected how they fought and not that they were able to shake it off.
As you're able to see of that little description of the story it seems to be fairly simple. Not overly complicated, just straightforward and I liked that. A lot of B-movies reach for the over convoluted story to cover up the fact that theirs is simple or just dumb. In The Raid that's not the case. There's no complicated story needed and it's also not trying to cover up the fact that it's straightforward. The film knows what it is and it embraces that really hard. But that all doesn't mean that the story isn't clever. It's actually quite clever in the way the story is constructed. It's constructed like an old 80's or 90's video game, namely that you have to build your way up to the final boss-level while each level starts to get harder and harder. In the end this was an amazing action film, but just a decent film overall. The acting was good, but the characters were lacking, which obviously lays within the screenplay, which wasn't the greatest. The action scenes however were shot amazingly and the so was the fight choreography. That's why this film gets a 7.5/10.
Personal Shopper (2016)
A good original story, with fantastic acting
Kristen Stewart, a personal shopper for a famous, self-centered model, her twin brother has passed away with whom she'd made a promise to. This promise was that when one of them died, they would try to contact each other from the afterlife.
The directing part of this film was quite interesting. The tone he chose for the film went from one to the other whereby it felt like I was watching multiple movies at once, but for some reason it really fitted with the film. Often when a film tries to be a lot, it fails at doing so, here they all just blended in together pretty nicely. And this is because they all lean back to the grief Kristen Stewart is going through at that moment, because that's the main story line, even though it seems like it branches off into something else pretty early on in the film. Visually too this film was pretty good looking. There's one scene in particular that I don't want to spoil which looked really good, with some amazing and creative use of shadow. That scene was also filmed in one take and because the scene went on for quite some time, with some good camera movements it came over as something very impressive. Because of that it was also definitely the stand-out scene of the film. The director also put some items in frame, which can be seen, but mostly by the people who are really paying attention to what's going on on screen and I really like when films reward those who pay attention. Olivier Assayas, the director of the film, did another cool thing, which I really liked. Normally in a mystery film they eventually let you have a shot which kind of gives you the last piece of the puzzle, where after you've solved the mystery. In this movie you don't have that. The film challenges you to think about it, even when the credits have stopped rolling, and you'll need that time to think to understand the film. He leaves a couple of questions unanswered at the end of the film, but after thinking about it, they'll start to make sense. Olivier Assayas was also pretty good at setting up tense/scary scenes of which there are a couple in the film, but not enough to call it a horror film, which a lot of people suspected it would be: just your average ghost film, but it's much more than that. But after something positive, something negative has to follow, namely that I didn't really like the editing. The continuous fading to black for example felt really out of place and seemed to only be there to let you know that you're watching an art house film. And there are a lot of transactions like that. The choppy editing at times also interfered with the smooth flow of the film, which is a shame. But at times the editing also worked in a good way, like when Kristen Stewart is texting with the unknown person, but more on that later.
Another thing that managed to capture the feel of grief was the acting and I am talking of course about the absolutely fantastic acting of Kristen Stewart. Stewart is mostly known for her awful role in the Twilight series, in which she plays a basically emotionless human being. After that role, though, she's gone on to choose better projects in which she got her time to shine. This film was one of them. Really, she's one of the main reasons why you should watch this film, I was blown away by her performance and as the film progressed, she seemed to get better and better, because the movie challenged her more to portray this multi-layered and complex character as she went through more things that shape someone. Stewart was able to become her character and gave the best performance I've seen of her. The supporting cast was lesser good, at times even bad, but Stewart totally makes up for this and the supporting cast also isn't seen a lot in the film, so this really wasn't a big problem.
The screenplay was pretty good and contained an interesting and unpredictable story, which was engaging as well. If it wasn't clear from the part where I praised Kristen Stewart for her acting; the characters were good as well. The side characters were relatively flat, but Kristen Stewart's was really well developed. That's because she's obviously the protagonist, but also because the writer wanted to show her loneliness in this world after the death of her brother, which is also a subplot that's briefly discussed at times, or not necessarily discussed, but it is at least something that you can find in the subtext of certain scenes. (the loneliness, not the death of her brother, that's brought up numerous times) I liked what they did via the medium of text messages and brought a certain sense of mystery to the film. These scenes were all very interesting to follow, which is quite weird, since we often only looked at a phone screen and Kristen Stewarts acting for around ten minutes. But the well directing, tense score and well editing, at those times, helped to create an intriguing but vague sequence at times. This was a very original and cool thing that helped to make the film different from anything else you can go see in theaters.
In the end "Personal Shopper" was a very good film, with some amazing acting from Kristen Stewart and some fantastic directing from Olivier Assayas, who also created an interesting, weird and original story which was also unpredictable. He made a movie-mash up of different themes which blended together nicely, because of the main theme: grief. That's why this film gets an 8.1/10
The Ticket (2016)
Tries to have a deeper meaning, but that meaning isn't as deep as it wants to be
In "The Ticket" we get to meet a blind man, who regains his vision in the beginning of the film. When he does, he starts to pay more attention to his exterior, starts to buy fancier things and basically becomes an asshole.
The film was directed by Ido Fluk in a visually fine way, but in other ways lesser good. The shots looked nice, with some good use of shadow. They also play around with the use of focus and lighting, which really fits the film. The color grading was nice and it reminded me quite a lot of the film "Demolition", staring Jake Gyllenhaal, which was a notable better film than this one. But it did make sense that the film would look very good, because the main character is able to see again, so the world must look gorgeous to him, which the film succeeded at doing. I liked what they did in the beginning of the film: they put us in complete darkness, with only the voices of characters in the background. From that moment we know that we're seeing things from the perspective of Dan Stevens' character: blind. But slowly the light starts to come through the iris of Stevens, and we feel how he regains his sight. They really sold me on that opening scene, but what was to come, was quite disappointing in comparison to that. What the director tried to do was to give the film a deeper meaning, which I thoroughly understand. It's an independent film and it wants to draw attention, so why not do it by making the film a bit odd, and by having it have a deeper meaning. This deeper meaning though, wasn't as deep as it wants to be. It's pretty obvious from the get-go, namely: when man is granted something big, it's doomed to fail. The film also does get boring pretty fast. The way characters speak in a very soft manner, the soft colors and the slow soundtrack all made the film feel longer than it was and made it feel very boring.
The acting wasn't a flaw, though. It was one of the best parts of the film even. Dan Stevens, who played the main character, has proved since 2014 in "The Guest" that he's a wonderful actor. Since then he's only been growing. This year he was phenomenal in "Legion" and in this film to he really sold it. The kid actor, Skylar Gaertner too was pretty good, just not as good as Dan Stevens, as he overshadows quite a lot of the cast. Skylar Gaertner played the son of Dan Stevens and there was a fun dynamic between the two of them. Someone else who was pretty good is Oliver Platt, who played the blind friend of James (Dan Stevens). The rest of the supporting cast also did quite a good job, but just like the kid actor they were overshadowed by the wonderful acting of Dan Stevens.
The main premise was good, but not well enough explored, which is quite a shame, because it all sounds so interesting. They only bring it up to create some tension between Oliver Platt and Dan Stevens, because Platt is still blind, whereas Stevens has regained sight. They glance over the regaining sight, which I would've liked to see a more in depth approach to. The screenplay by the way was also written by the director, Ido Fluk. I like when directors do this, because it shows the dedication that they put into this film, and it shows in the final result. I liked that they evolve Dan Stevens' character, but I don't like how they do it. We get introduced to James when he regains his vison, it was a good scene, but due to this we don't get to know him when he was blind, because when he regains his sight he turns into a total asshole and I don't really get the motivation for becoming one. So I believe that if we got introduced to him earlier, we got to sympathize with him, so we later could understand why he changed and by doing that the development wouldn't be as abrupt as it was now. But only the part where he turns into an asshole was handled badly, the other developments were more subtle and made me care more for James. The other characters weren't highlighted as much as Stevens, which is really understandable, because the film is told from his perspective and the other characters really don't need any development, so I found no problem in that.
In the end "The Ticket" was an OK film that's worth your time. The deeper lying message was pretty obvious, but the visuals totally make up for it. The acting was wonderful, but at times the character motivation is lacking. That's why this film gets a 6.5/10 from me.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
"Kong: Skull Island" contains enjoyable action scenes, but is lacking in characters
A team has discovered an unknown island and was sent to that place to research it. But at arrival they entered the domain of Kong
Jordan Vogt-Roberts was the director of this film and he also wasn't really the problem of the film. Visually this film looks good, but that's also the best the film has to offer. The color grading was good enough and gave it a more vintage look and the cinematography overall was pretty good. The director had somewhat sense of scale, because he liked to put a human, as tiny as possible into the frame with Kong, who is ginormous in comparison to said human portrayed on screen. But that immediately brings me to one of the problems of the film: Kong. Well, how he looked at least, because even though he didn't visually look good, the scenes with him in them were the best that you can find in the film. Kong just looked very CGI to me, and he was the best looking CGI creature in the movie. This film is filled with moments in which the CGI is overwhelming. If they'd used more props, or went to location a bit more, this would've changed the movie quite a bit. Especially in the night scenes you could see that they were filmed in a set and that the backdrop consisted out of a green screen. And sometimes the film also goes into the ridiculous department with the CGI by showing the northern lights. Yes, the northern lights, you read that right. I know that they went on location numerous times, but some scenes then were shot in complete green rooms. Another aspect the movie failed at was the tone. It tried to be a drama, and action film, an over the top action film, a comedy, a serious film and all these things did not fit together at all. Often enough it tried to be taken seriously, when just unintentional funny stuff was going on, or it tried to be funny, when there was just nothing to laugh at.
The actors were just doing what the script was offering them, which is not a lot. The cast of this film is phenomenal, but underused. They have Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Toby Kebbell, Samuel Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman The list goes on and on. All actors gave good performances, and were only likable due to their natural charisma. Samuel Jackson and John C. Reilly only managed to make their jokes work because of their on screen charisma. But some actors also had no chemistry together on screen and those were the little group of soldiers who were under Samuel Jackson's command. None of them felt like they liked each other and their relationship felt forced from the beginning.
The screenplay was the main problem with this film, because dear god, what did they do with the characters? Well, the characters that don't exist, because I've just watched two hours of hollow, empty, characterless human beings interact with each other, interchanged with some awesome scenes of Kong. But they had set up some things to create some interesting character, yet they completely forget about those things. In the beginning of the film for example we see Samuel Jackson's character with a bottle of alcohol, and he seems to be distant in the conversation he's having, which in my opinion insinuates the fact that he might be an alcoholic after the Vietnam War, but they never do anything with that set up character trait throughout the whole movie. The character of Toby Kebbell was given some character by having him write to his son, which practically made him together with John C. Reilly the most developed characters of them all, and the film has quite a lot of characters. John C. Reilly was stranded on the island for a very long time and we get to hear a bit about his past, but most of the time we get to re-hear what he has said before, so that really didn't add a lot to his character. Tom Hiddelston's character is just there to be cool, he's a tracker and that's pretty much all to his character. There's one scene where he talks about his past with Brie Larson, but that scene added very little to me caring for that character. There's also this ridiculous scene involving him in which he just asks for a sword and starts chopping things up, while magically having put on a gasmask with one hand, just to create one badass, senseless looking shot, which wasn't worth it at all. And if you want to know something more about Brie Larson's character: she's a photographer. The dialogue overall was just fine, there were some cheesy one liners, and bad jokes, but as a whole, it didn't achieve much.
In the end "Kong: Skull Island" wasn't a good movie at all, it was quite disappointing even. The acting was good and the action scenes were enjoyable, but the characters were lacking and the CGI wasn't the greatest. That's why this film gets just a 5.6/10.
A good ending to Hugh Jackman's take on Wolverine
"Logan is the final installment in the so called Wolverine trilogy. In this film we meet Logan as a more damaged and depressed man, who's given the task to bring this little mutant to a place called Eden.
James Mangold, the man behind the second film in the Wolverine trilogy, "The Wolverine" came back to direct this film. In this film he has proved again that he is a very good visual director. The cinematography was absolutely beautiful with some good use of lighting and color creating very good looking shots throughout the whole film. He didn't only succeed at the visual aspect, but also at the action sequences. They were fast paced, yet easy to follow and also tense full. The pacing overall in the film is really good just in the second act it starts to become a bit slower, but I didn't mind, because the time is well spent. Mangold wasn't the greatest at making the character building scenes as interesting as they could've been, but they nonetheless were pretty good. The CGI wasn't noticeable, but was there and thus pretty good.
The acting was formidable. Hugh Jackman was born to play the character of Wolverine, just like Robert Downey Jr. was for Iron Man and Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool, and gave his all in all of the films in which he played said character, but in "Logan", he outdoes himself. He really showed how great of an actor he is. He managed to indulge himself into the character. He looked damaged and depressed and managed to convince me that he was the Wolverine. But not only Hugh Jackman was good. So was his counterpart Dafne Keen. She, especially since her age, was fantastic. She maybe even had one of the biggest challenges, because her character doesn't say anything for around two thirds of the film. She was equally as badass to watch on screen as Hugh Jackman. The two of them made a fun action duo and also had chemistry between them. I liked the fact that their bound grew throughout the whole film and I'd love to see her as the new Wolverine and not just a recast. Patrick Stewart was also great as professor X and the actor of the villain I found to be good as well.
The screenplay was pretty good as well, containing a simple, but effective story , which branched off into much more on the way. The characters were probably the best part of the film, because they have all developed since we got to know them in the original X-men. Logan has become broken down and sick, Charles has aged and has developed a brain disease. I like that throughout the film we get to know more about why Charles is like he is and that he too is a damaged man when he realizes that he killed seven mutants due to his brain disease. Developments like these are hidden throughout the film and are never really pushed into your face. This film utilized those developments and created a sad, depressing film, in which it succeeded without a doubt. The characters were all very well rounded and I found myself caring for them. They all had their depth, unlike in some X-men films, where they solely support on the acting capabilities of the actors. In this film the acting was just the cherry on top. And because of these well-crafted characters, each death was painful to watch. Even the character of X-23 was very good and Dafne nailed her portrayal. She was skeptical with everything that was happening and only trusted in Logan, even though she didn't always show that. The character was quite complex for such a young actress to portray, but I think that she nailed it perfectly. I myself was quite skeptical as well, because of the fact that they gave an unheard-of kid actor a major role in such a serious film, but after seeing the film I'm happy that they chose Dafne to play X- 23. The screenplay wasn't flawless, though. At a point Logan refers to Charles as Charles, even though they're in the company of another family and Logan had given Charles the name of Chuck, but this could also just be a tiny mistake on Hugh Jackman, and I didn't mind that mistake. My problem is that the movie doesn't explain certain things very well, which left me guessing. Questions like "Why is Wolverine getting poisoned by his own adamentium?" popped up in my head, but then again, this wasn't really a big flaw, I'd just like some more information on that subject. The villain was just OK, but the film didn't really need him to be better, because the main focus doesn't lay there.
In the end "Logan" was one of the better films I've seen that came out in 2017. It's a dark take on the character and it absolutely worked. The film was beautifully shot, with good and gruesome action scenes, that weren't there to be gruesome, but to show the dark and serious tone the film was going for. That's why this film gets a 8.9/10.
Don't Breathe (2016)
A good premise, which was well executed
Three teenagers break into the house of an old blind man, which they believe will be a simple task. Turns out it's not when the old blind man is played by Stephen Lang
The director is the same one who tried to remake "Evil Dead", which he did just OK-ly. In this film however Fede Alvarez, the director, did a fantastic job. He was the best part of the whole film. He used some very good camera movements and long takes, which created a slow feel at times, to create a tenser atmosphere. There's a very good scene when the three main protagonists first enter the house of the blind man. This was made to look like a long continuous take, in which the camera moves through the floor and through walls. In that sequence we also get to see some things that will be used further on in the film. They accentuate the things that later will be used pretty hard, but I didn't really mind because of the awesomeness of that scene alone. Fede Alvarez was really good at creating tension. He used slow editing, mixed with camera movements that went slow, or fast when needed. To build up tension, the editing was slow, and the camera movements to were slow. When there was a chase scene, it was the exact opposite. The amazing score accompanied with these scenes also helped with creating the tense atmosphere that they are going for. But the thing that might help the most is the basic premise of the film. The man having the disadvantage to the kids with being blind, and them breaking into his house, but more on that later. The cinematography was really good, this was one of the better looking horror films of recent years, some others conclude "It Follows" and I found "Green Room" to be shot very good as well.
The acting was just OK overall. The main actress wasn't fantastic, but she did what she did what the film asked of her. Jane Levy played this character. The kid from "Goosebumps", Dylan Minnette (Alex in the film) was pretty good. At least better than his co-star Jane Levy. The third and final kid of the three that break in was played by Daniel Zovatto, who basically copied Jared Leto's performance from "Panic Room". Not only did he copy his performance, but also his looks (the hair/clothing style). "Don't breathe" copies that film in numerous aspects and it's quite obvious that it wants to pay homage to it, but at times they could've kept it more subtle. The scene which I previously talked about (the one continuous take), was also sort of copied from "Panic Room". The final actor I want to talk about is also basically the only actor who's there to talk about, who's also the star of the film, namely Stephen Lang, who played the blind man. He was fantastic. I loved his performance. He was menacing, yet made it in the beginning look like he was very innocent. The depth that he brought to his character was really good. And also note that he barely has any lines, so it was really amazing how he was able to express his emotions via little to no dialogue, which only makes the role harder.
The screenplay was OK; the dialogue and premise were good, but the plot conveniences weren't really that good. These convenience or illogicalities really brought me out of the film at times. The inconsistency of the blind man's senses is an example of plot conveniences. He could smell shoes that were on the other side of the room, but wasn't able to smell someone, who's probably sweating due to stress, standing next to me. But also some things that happen mainly because of plot. Like the dog magically appearing in the house, yet all doors were locked. Or when Goosebumps kid falls through a window, yet they're all covered with bars The film contains a lot of these instances to which I disturbed myself, but these flaws aren't really groundbreaking. They are bad parts of the film and affect the grade that I'm giving this film, but overall worse things could've happened, and the good parts certainly outweigh the bad parts. Like the main premise for example. It was an original idea that hasn't really been done before, except for last year's "Hush", but I that film the one whose house gets broken into was deaf and not blind. This sets up an interesting story, which was also executed pretty well. And what I also liked from the film is that it plays with who you are rooting for. At first I wasn't rooting for the three leads at all, because, well, they're breaking into the house of a defenseless, old, blind man. Even when we learn that the man isn't as defenseless as he seemed in the beginning, I still rooted for him, but then at around 75 percent into the film, something happens whereby the rooting side changed, and I really liked that.
In the end "Don't Breathe" was a well shot and directed film, with an interesting premise that was well executed. It does suffer a bit of plot conveniences, but these are outweighed by the better aspects of the film. That's why this one gets an 8.1/10.
Burning Sands (2017)
A solid version of a story that has been told multiple times
Zurich finds himself in hell week pledging to be one of the new lambdas.
The directing of this film was fairly well done; shots were well composed and looked quite good. The director was who also wrote the screenplay for this film together with Christine Berg. This was also one of his first films; I believe his first real motion picture, so it's quite surprising that he pulled of a relatively good film. He wasn't very creative with angles, but his camera movements and edits helped to bring you in the moment. When the main characters have trouble staying above water, the camera is moving up and down in the water accompanied with fast edits, to recreate how the characters would've felt. I like this, because it made it easier to get in to the film. Or to make us feel with the character they made the camera zoom in on his face from quite some distance. An example can be found at the end of the film. This technique really pays off. The cinematography too was good. The use of focus was good and created some visually good looking shots. But what made the shots look worse than they were supposed to was the color grading, something that's off in some movies nowadays and something that seems to wrong with Netflix' upcoming movie "Bright". The shots looked very dull due to the grey filter that was put over the film, which didn't give a good result. I don't really understand why they did this. Like I've said before, the editing was quite good; the pacing was right and the fast edits didn't feel forced. The soundtrack was really good and fitting to the film.
The acting was OK. The actor of the main character, Zurich, played by Trevor Jackson was luckily the best of the bunch. He showed his emotions well. He wasn't excellent, but he was good enough and did what the movie asked of him. His friend group felt like just a bunch of extras, whereby their acting to felt like nothing memorable. They were just there to be there and be their characters, but nothing more. I'm not saying that they were really bad, but I just would've liked them to bring more to their characters. To me they all just felt quite flat. Luckily there was some chemistry between the boys. In the cast there's also Trevante Rhodes, who you might know from "Moonlight". In both movies he gave a good performance, and because he was better than the rest of the supporting cast, I thought that he deserved a mention.
The screenplay was just OK and written by the director himself, together with Christine Berg. The story is something that has been told before - last year even with "Goat", to which this film often gets compared - so I was expecting some kind of twist on it, which wasn't the case. The story doesn't always follow the steps that other films have put down for it to make. What I did like was that I was able to understand the motive of the main character to go through all of this. The characters were not so good, though. There were quite some characters and I didn't really care for any of them. I felt really detached from the film, which is not a good thing. The only thing that helped with me caring for the characters was the directing and some of the acting, but not fully. Because of the flat acting of the supporting cast, and the bad characters for them to begin with, there wasn't much to be expected. And at the end there was something that I had foreseen from the start of, whereby it wasn't a surprise anymore. Even a bit before the death they get better friends, so we will feel even worse when he dies, which wasn't the case, because it's an over-used cliché. The female characters were handled well, not that they played a huge role, but often enough they are used as a pretty face in films like these. Here they have a personality and are not reliant on man, which was a big plus from me. What I did like was that the film was grounded and kept on being grounded throughout the film. There weren't any absurd things happening, or unrealistic things that kind of ruin the realistic feel to the film that similar films often have. Here the things that happen could've happened to some students.
In the end "Burning Sands" was an OK retelling of a story that has been told multiple times. This film just wasn't able to hit the emotional notes it wants to hit and this was mostly because of the screenplay; the characters were not well written. The acting too was only very good from a couple of actors of which the main actor was one. Visually this film is quite good looking, but the colors were a bit dull. That's why this film gets a 7/10.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Emotionally-heavy, and brilliantly acted film!
Manchester by the Sea has won one of the most deserved Oscars this year, for both the screenplay, but most of all for Casey Affleck's performance as Lee Chandler. In that film he plays a janitor, whose brother has passed away and now he gets to be the guardian of his nephew, but that just doesn't fit entirely in his life.
The directing was really good. Kenneth Lonergan was the director. The film is visually very good looking, so was the color grading and framing. He also liked to show a lot of shots of their surroundings to set up the theme of the film, but what Kenneth Lonergan has done in a fantastic manner is to set up the emotional scenes. He brilliantly sets them up, with a slow building score in the background leading up to the "finally" of that scene. He really was able to create powerful scenes that'll pull the right emotional strings. The soundtrack overall is very good. It isn't anything mind-blowing, but it does what the movie asks it to do: help to emote the viewer. The editing did contain some flaws, like actors moving very little, but notable between cuts, etc. and the pacing as well could be a bit slow, but I didn't really mind, because the rest of the film was there to keep me entertained, and asking for more.
The acting is the main reason why you should go see this film. The main actor, Casey Affleck really was brilliant. His acting was superb, because of the held-back emotion you could see in him, or hardly see in him. He isn't the person, who yells when he's angry or sad, but just keeps it to him. He lets the pain build up inside of him. You could hardly see it, but if you pay close enough attention, you were able to see how he felt. How miserable he was. How damaged he was. His subtle movements, gestures, facial expressions all helped with this. He was very subdued and subtle in his performance that I was blown away by him. It was definitely something you should see on the big screen in a theater. Not only Casey Affleck was great, so was Michelle Williams, who played Casey Affleck's ex-wife. She wasn't a lot in the film, but when she was there, she broke my heart. Her acting too was superb and really convincing. I wasn't seeing Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck on the screen, but I saw Randi and Lee Chandler. Lucas Hedges I found to be lesser good. I wouldn't call him bad, but he definitely fell in the shadow of the Affleck and Williams. I don't think that he really earned his Oscar-nomination. Kyle Chandler was fantastic and should've been the one who's nominated for the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role. But the rest of the supporting cast was great as well, whereby it didn't feel like I was watching a movie but that I was watching real people.
The screenplay too was absolutely fantastic. I'm not sure if this one deserved the Oscar or "Hell or High Water", but either way I am happy with the outcome. The story takes a while to start and seems pretty simple and boring if I would explain it, but how Kenneth Lonergan does it, is magnificent. The story telling in this film is really good. The screenplay wonderfully interwove flashbacks into the story; we got to know Lee and his damaged past piece by piece, whereby you slowly start to unconsciously care more and more about him. Which is something you in the beginning of the film wouldn't expect, because at first he just seems to be a curt man, without any chemistry or likability, but as the movie progresses, you realize that there's more to him. With each flashback scene they add onto the character, building up to one particular flashback. One flashback that to me was the best scene out of the film, and even gave me chills right at the end of it. So if you didn't notice from that part: the characters were amazing as well. They all had their own depth to them and were interesting to see. They felt like real people, because everything that happened to them could've happened to anyone. The dialogue also helped with creating the realistic atmosphere the movie is going for and it absolutely nails that as well.
In the end "Manchester by the Sea" was one of the best films of last year. Just Casey Affleck's performance is a good reason for seeing this film. He gave his all for this role and so did Michelle Williams. But only go see the film if you know you can handle emotional-heavy films, because this one contains some heavy scenes. That's why I'm giving this one a 9.6/10.
T2 Trainspotting (2017)
Choose life. Choose a movie. Choose a good sequel.
Renton goes back to Scotland to revisit his old friends.
Danny Boyle also went back to direct this film, after twenty years. Boyles directing as exactly the same as in the first film, and was very fun to see in our modern time. It's nothing that you see these days, and probably won't see again, but with Danny his films. He was also very creative from a visual standpoint. The use of color was eccentric and the angles he filmed at were weird, but also created a good- looking shot. What I also liked was how he utilized shadow. He used it when Renton goes back to his old house, and sits at a table, but without his mum, because she had passed away. Instead of having nothing there, it was made to look like her shadow was sitting there. Of this use of shadow are a couple of scenes. Danny Boyle also utilized what I think was a beamer very creatively. He used this to tell a story that one character was narrating. I found this to be inventive and this too made for some good looking shots. The editing as well was fantastic. It was weird at first, but throughout the film you get used to it. At times there were jump-cuts, which I didn't like. The freeze frames were a bit troublesome in the beginning, but after a while I started to appreciate their value. The soundtrack was just like the original film: fantastic. Iggy Pop really works with the theme of the film. Now what I didn't really like was that the emphasis wasn't really on the heroin anymore. This was one of the better parts of the previous film, and felt like it was its "character" on its own. Don't get me wrong, there still is an overabundant of drugs in the film, but the emphasis didn't lay in that category. What I did like was that they re-used some scenes from the first film and recreated shots. They also referenced the first film a lot (the dirty toilet, the gun with which they shoot in the park in the first film ), which I like and is something fun for the ones who've seen the first film to look for. But by doing this they really search for support in the nostalgia factor, something the movie might support quite a bit on.
The acting was good. The main actors (Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Johnny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle), were fun to be seeing there iconic characters again, but at times I felt that their acting didn't hold up to what they did previously. They were still pretty good, nonetheless, but just didn't reach the high notes I was hoping for. Robert Carlyle was probably the best out of the whole ensemble as Begbie. You could see in their acting that the cast had a ton of fun making this film, which also translated to the screen. This time around we didn't only have the original cast, but also Veronika, played by Anjela Nedyalkova. She was just OK, nothing really spectacular.
The script was the main problem of this film. What once was the height of the first film is now the lowness of this one. The dialogue was very weak and at times. There were some good lines, but those were mostly used in the trailer. The monologue of the origin of "Choose Life" was good and so was the line "You're just a tourist in your own youth", which practically describes this film very well. I also can't deny that there were a lot of funny moments. They didn't always make sense, but I got enjoyment out of them. The chemistry between Sick Boy, Renton and Spud was still there, and Spud's character hadn't really changed except of becoming a more broken person, which was pretty painful to see. The story was pretty messy and they just forget about some items, like the lawsuit on Sick Boy. I think that that was just an excuse to reintroduce a character from the first film: Diane. It was fun seeing her again, but because of the little screen time she got and the useless screen time she got, I don't really get why she was in the film, other than nostalgia. The story went all over the place and lacked focus on certain aspects. There's just a lot going on and it keeps on branching of into side-story lines, which didn't really help with keeping the story good. I did like the idea that Spud wrote "Trainspotting" himself, which was a fun addition to the film, even though it was one of the many branches.
Now was this film good? Yes. But I was quite disappointed. Maybe I was expecting something similar to "Trainspotting", I don't really know. The film supports heavily on the previous film and its nostalgia, whereby I'm not really sure if it can stand well on its own. The story is messy, but it was very well and creatively directed and edited, accompanied by the iconic, well-chosen soundtrack. That's why this one gets a 7.2/10.
Hell or High Water (2016)
Realistic, well-written film, with fantastic acting!
Two brothers rob banks, for some reason, but now they are being hunted by the Texan police.
David Mackenzie, the director of the very good "Starred Up", went on to create this modern-day western epic. Mackenzie really was one of the things who made this movie fantastic. However, he wasn't the best thing of this film, this lays in the screenplay, which I'll discuss in my second to last paragraph. Now back to the director. Mackenzie created a beautiful looking film. The use of light, shadow, composition, everything that there is to make a shot look good, was good in this film. The landscapes were nicely captured by the cinematographer of this film, Giles Nuttgens, who has previously filmed "The Fundamentals of Caring", an OK-looking film, so it was very surprising he created such a good looking film. The direction wasn't stale; the camera moved around, to create long, nice looking takes. An example of those lays in one of the robbery scenes. All of those scenes by the way were fantastic. They felt realistic, they were tense and, like said before, good looking. What David Mackenzie also did succeed at was creating a realistic film. Everything that was happening on screen felt like it could happen in real life. There were some scenes that were less believable, but you have to take the setting in account, and then it makes more sense. That's also something I liked about the film: they utilize the setting. It's not that the film could've been set elsewhere. It could only take place in Texas. The soundtrack was also very good. The songs fitted well with what was going on and they also made the movie feel like a modern-day western. The editing was superb. The pacing really hit all the high notes. There wasn't a single scene that was dragging, even though the film was very slow paced, slowly building up to the finally.
The acting was fantastic; I am surprised that not all of them got a nominee. The whole ensemble impressed me, but the one that impressed me the most was the performance of the well-known Chris Pine. This role of his is totally different from the ones I know him for, and I like that he has stepped out of his comfort zone. He gave on of his best performances, which is also one of his most emotional performances. He really sold his role. Ben Foster as well was fantastic. I didn't see him, but I saw his well-written character. Jeff Bridges too was great. I like his chemistry together with Gil Birmingham, who played his colleague policeman. The two of them had well written banter and were a fun on screen duo.
The screenplay was, like said before, the best part of the whole film. Taylor Sheridan, the writer of "Sicario", who's bringing out his big-budget, directorial debut "Wind River", which he also wrote, wrote this film. If there's something Sheridan can do is portraying characters. All of the characters were written with extreme care, and the film also takes time to develop these well-written characters. They were developed by small-talks and not by exposition. They were developed by giving small bits of information once in a while, so by the end of the movie you have a fully developed character. This also parallels the story overall. In the beginning we don't really know why they are robbing banks – I know it is said in the trailers and in the IMDb synopsis, but a reviewer I follow said to not read them, because it's more fun to find out yourself -, but after throughout the film you keep on getting these small hints and bits of information like pieces of a puzzle and near the end of the film all the pieces fall together, to form a fantastically well-developed puzzle. That's one of the main aspects I liked about the film, but it doesn't stop there. Like said in the previous paragraph I also liked the banter between Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham. The back and forward jokes were funny, just like all of the jokes in this film. Both of the characters were built on each other, which ended well in the climax of the film. The jokes may seem weird, because the film has set-up this serious atmosphere, so by having these jokes, you'd expect a theme-swap, but the film handled them so well, and the jokes fitted with the characters that made them.
In the end "Hell or High Water" was a well-written and well-acted film, with good looking shots, and good tension. The film had set-up a realistic atmosphere, and the film was able to keep that atmosphere throughout the whole film. This film is defiantly one of the better films of 2016 and I would recommend seeing this, if you are able to. That's why I'm giving this film a 9.3/10.
Jane Got a Gun (2015)
Uninteresting and boring throughout.
Jane searches for help with her ex-lover, because her now husband is being searched by a gang led by John Bishop.
Gavin O'Connor, the director of among others "Warrior" and "The Accountant", both of which were great films, "Warriors" being one of his best films. This film however I found to be just fine. There really wasn't any substance to it in all aspects, which also means that the visual storytelling wasn't good. It wasn't bad either though. There just wasn't anything interesting going on and every shot just looked bland. The color grading was dull and the shot composition just followed the basic rules. The camera didn't move in interesting manners and there were no further meanings with how some shots were represented, even though this would've been so, if the director had had more time. I've read on the trivia of this website that only one day after the previous director had been fired, this one was, which means that Gavin O'Connor didn't really have the time to put his creative stamp on to the film and that was pretty notable, because his other films did look good, in all the things that i've just mentioned, so it's a shame that this film could've been better if O'Connor only had gotten more time. There are plenty of westerns that came out not so long ago that did look visually good (Slow West, Django Unchained...), each of which had their own creativity put into them, which wasn't the case with this film. There was so much room for creativity, but there wasn't any used. But that wasn't the only flaw this film has, there are multiple, and those I'll discus now. I most of the time like movies, where the protagonist has to defend their house, but in this one they just followed the clichés of every one of those films. The only thing that differs this film from the rest is that in this one the prepping scenes were done badly and the build up fell flat, because of numerous reasons, but those'll be discussed in the second to last paragraph. The editing was fine, but the pacing was dreading and slow and at times this was also done too quick; it never really hit the good notes. The soundtrack was also just fine, nothing special, some songs were good and others weren't.
The acting was just fine. Natlie Portman, normally a good actress, was the worst one of this cast. Her accent was inconsistent and overall she only did an OK job. In the emotional scenes she cried and such, but it never felt like those feelings were true. Joel Edgerton, gives as usual a good performance and Ewan McGregor as well was good, even though we didn't get to see a lot of him. In my opinion he gave the best performance of the film, in comparison to Natalie Portman. Between Joel Edgerton and Natalie Portman there wasn't really any on screen chemistry. Noah Emmerich was good as Bill Hammond, even though he didn't really get his chance to shine. The kid actors were fine, but nothing special, nonetheless pretty good for kids.
The screenplay was mediocre. The story overall sounded interesting to me, but the execution of it turned out to be bad. The dialogue was cheesy and clichéd with nothing interesting. It wouldn't have mattered if I'd skipped some scenes, because nothing happens. The characters were badly developed and don't go through any development, but they try to do this, but the use of flashbacks. Those flashback scenes, however, were badly written, whereby those were only boring and on top of that, they didn't add anything to the characters! I didn't care for any of them, which only made the movie more boring than it already was. The writers also tried to put up this love triangle, in which they failed miserably as well. Then how was the villain? Well, equally as bad as the other characters. He had no character surrounding him, and due to this I couldn't find myself understanding him. The build up to the finale is also not good, like I've just said indirectly. But the finale was also very anticlimactic. It only goes on for a couple of minutes, and with the whole film building up to that particular moment I expected something big, but I was left with a boring, short action scene. And another thing I want to say is that the title of the film is really bad. The title at least insinuate that Jane's a badass, but time and time again this statement gets proved wrong.
In the end "Jane got a Gun" was a not so good film, which is quite surprising, hence it's directed by Gavin O'Connor. Visualyly this film looked dull and uninteresting and those two words describe the film very well: dull and uninteresting. The film was boring throughout and the characters were badly written.
La La Land (2016)
Amazingly directed and acted film, with a well written script and good songs
"La La Land" is about two people, one an aspiring actor the other one a jazz enthusiast, who both fall for each other and whose story gets told via the manner of a musical.
Damien Chazelle returns to create his second movie, also music-centered. His previous film, "Whiplash", was one of the better films of 2014. In that movie he showed his talent, but in this one he even surpassed his previous achievements. Chazelle used incredibly long, beautiful shot takes, often accompanied with a good song, more on the songs later. These scenes are seamlessly cut together, whereby sometimes they make it seem that the scene was shot in one take, but actually had some cleverly hidden edits in them. Often these were hidden behind quick camera movements. The movie by the way begins in such a fashion, as I just described. That scene was done fantastic and set up high expectations for the rest of the film. What Damien Chazelle also did was to use vibrant colors throughout the whole film. Green, purple, yellow, red all return multiple times in the film, each end everyone having a meaning to them, which made the film more interesting.
The songs were written with care and added to the film. They each told a story that had something to do with the scene or the story, and weren't just useless songs, there to fill up the moment, or to be there and later to sell a soundtrack to double their earnings. No, they are there, because they have a meaning. The songs were beautifully written and performed, and I really understand why the Oscars have picked out two of the songs, which I also found to be two of the best songs in the film. There were of course some songs that were lesser good, but even those I found to be amusing to listen to. Not only the songs sung by the cast were good, but also the instrumentals in the background were fantastic to listen to. Those also added to the scenes that they were setting up. I do have one problem with how some of the songs were presented, but that problem mostly lies with me, and not with the movie. This problem is that at times it feels kind of forced how they start some songs. At times they just burst out of songs, which was unfitting to me. But that's the nature of a musical, so what did I expect? But at times those scenes where handled very well. I liked how the lights drained out, only focusing on the one who's going to sing, and at times the singing also happened naturally and didn't feel forced, so it's kind of a double edged sword.
I want to come back to the directing of Damien Chazelle, because I want to say a couple of things on his visual directing. That looked absolutely gorgeous. Like I've said, he used vibrant colors, which really made the scenes stand out more. The use of vibrant colors is also something that you don't see that often anymore in films, which is a shame, because look at the result "La La land" got. The framing was good and the camera movements to were fantastic. Chazelle used shadow and lightning brilliantly to created good-looking shots, and he also masters the use of focus.
Enough about that, let's move on to the acting. Ryan Gosling once again shows that he is a diverse actor and can play a whole host of characters. In this movie he gives a fantastic performance and it's no surprise that he has gotten that Oscar nomination. Emma Stone too gives a fantastic performance, at first I was a bit skeptical with her, but after the first thirty minutes or so, she persuaded me into enjoying her performance. The both of them had great on screen chemistry, whereby their relationship only became more believable and realistic.
The script was very good and the characters stood out to me the most. The story itself was straightforward and easy to follow. Nonetheless it was a good story. It was realistic and grounded, just like the characters, and that's why I liked them so much. Most of the times you get to see unrealistic characters, but here that wasn't the case. In "La La Land" you can see two relatable people, fighting to reach their dreams, accompanied with the struggle that fight brings them. Because these characters are so realistic and relatable, you also start to care for them. What I also liked about the film is that it made me appreciate jazz more, because of one particular scene, in which Ryan Gosling is enthusiastic about it trying to convince Emma Stone how good jazz can be. The scene was wonderfully written and in that scene he didn't only convince Emma Stone, but also me. The ending was weird at first, but when I realized what was going on, I started to appreciate it more and more, until the movie ended with it satisfying, yet heartbreaking conclusion. The film really plays with your emotions, and can make you feel sad and happy again in a spit second, but at the end it all felt like a feel-good movie created for people who have dreams and have trouble reaching them, what I very much appreciated.
"La La Land" was a very good musical, and this comes from someone who generally doesn't like musicals. The songs were good and so was the acting. Damien Chazelle created one of the most well directed films of the year, and that's why I am giving this one a 9.2/10.
Nocturnal Animals (2016)
Beautiful looking film, that makes you think about it afterwards!
Susan receives a manuscript, written by her ex-husband, in which he tells a violent story. She gets very involved into the story, because she sees it as a revenge tale.
Tom Ford, the designer, returns to direct another film after a hiatus of seven years. Ford shows in this film that he hasn't lost his mojo. His artistic vison really helped to create very good looking and stylish shots, with a lot of use of color, which brings its own meaning to the shot. Ford used cold colors (blue, white ) in the scenes with Amy Adams (Susan) and warmer colors (red, orange ) in the scenes with Jake Gyllenhaal (Tony). I haven't come to realize why he chose to use different colors for the both of them, but I have a few guesses. One of them is that he decided to do this, to show the difference between what was taking place in the book and what was taking place in "real life". Another guess I have is that the colder colors represent the loneliness and sadness Susan is feeling. But those are just guesses. Ford didn't only use these colors to symbolize cold and warm, but also to show emotions. Red stood for love, or death. Green stood for envy. The use of color was sublime and really made you think more about the movie. The shot composition too was very good and the camera movements as well. The use of shadow was perfect. In short: this was a gorgeous looking movie. Another thing that Tom Ford did was creating a weird film. He didn't make a straightforward film, but he created a film that has you thinking about it after you've seen it. It even starts way in the beginning with the opening credits, that were kind of weird, but fantastically set up the theme for the rest of the movie. It prepares you for what's to come and immediately shows that the movie is not your average film, but something that's different than all, which I very much enjoyed. The soundtrack I found to be fitting and original. It helped a lot to set up the scene. The editing also helped with this, but also to show the similarities between the manuscript and Susan's life. This was done in a very good manner and the pacing was good too. I didn't feel that the movie was too long or too short: it was just the right length. Due to this the film also never drags, which is of course a good thing.
The acting was absolutely marvelous. Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams both give excellent performances. Gyllenhaal played his character so well, that I didn't see Jake Gyllenhaal, but Tony, or at times Edward. He performed well in the emotional scenes, but he is also very good in showing the subtle character progression he goes through. Amy Adams has previously starred in this years "Arrival", where she plays a totally different character. It's really fascinating to see how diverse she can act, because the two characters have no correlation to each other. Like I've said: two different characters. In both cases she gave a fantastic performance, and that's why I was surprised she didn't get an Oscar nod for one of her performances. Not only Gyllenhaal and Adams gave a wonderful performance, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Michael Shannon were superb as well. Aaron Taylor Johnson was really unrecognizable. He was scary, weird and really nailed the part. Michael Shannon too was fantastic. He gave, in my opinion, the best performance of the entire film.
The screenplay was also a very good adaptation. The dialogue was good, but the narrative was the thing that really spoke to me. I very much enjoyed the way how they wove together the three stories and kept it all easy to differentiate. All of the stories were very intriguing, whereby I wasn't bored a single minute. The characters were original and not clichéd. You were able to care for them and they also went through some development. I very much liked Aaron Taylor-Johnson's character. He played the main villain of the story, but the way they wrote him was brilliant. He was scary and intimidating, yet he wasn't really big, or built in a strong manner. It all came from his character. Amy Adams character was also multi-layered. At first she just seems like any other wealthy person, but as the movie progresses, you get to know her more, mostly because of the flashback scenes. The ending was also very good. It doesn't explain itself, which I like very much. This ensures that there are multiple explanations for it.
"Nocturnal Animals" has quickly grown to be one of the best movies of 2016, in my opinion at least. The film challenges you to think about it, not only during the film, but also after the credits have stopped rolling. Tom Ford created a visually stunning film, with some weird scene, but those all have an underlying meaning to them. Because of those reasons summed up just now, I'm giving "Nocturnal Animals" a 9.5/10.
Hardcore Henry (2015)
Thin plot and bad characters, but entertaining nonetheless, due good stunt work and action scenes!
"Hardcore Henry" is about Henry, who's resurrected from his dead, and modified with some robotic parts. He wakes up without memory and with one goal: save his wife.
The film was directed by Ilya Naishuller and he did a fine job. He used a technique that hasn't been used before, or at least not to this extent, and that technique is filming the movie totally from the perspective of the protagonist. There are objective shots: everything is viewed from the eyes of the main character. This technique didn't really speak to me at first, because before watching the movie, I was anticipating it to be nauseating and hard to follow. I was correct on one of those two things: it was indeed hard to follow. Henry's head moves from one place to another very quickly numerous times in the film, by which you don't really know what's going on. Another thing I want to say about this technique is that it gets boring after a while. It's always the same perspective, and that gets repetitive. Ilya Naishuller was nonetheless able to create some good action scenes, over the top at times, but entertaining and cool to watch. The editing also made the movie hard to follow. I found the editing to be one of the worst parts of the film. There was an overuse of jump cuts, that really didn't fit and when they tried to hide edits, by shadows or him moving quickly or something, it always was noticeable. The soundtrack was unfitting, but some of the songs were good, just didn't fit the moment or the theme the film had set up, which is a shame. Sometimes the instrumental songs helped to create a tense scene, but these instrumental songs where almost every time the same song. This didn't really bother me, because the song did what it was supposed to do. At times they tried to use these tense songs in scenes to create a comedic effect, like when Henry is seen changing clothes in a small shop. That really didn't work for me, which was the case with most of the jokes. The stunt work I found to be very good. There were some impressive stunts pulled of, which were very entertaining to watch. A thing that I really disliked about the film was the sound design. It was lazy and repetitive; often you could hear the exact same sound a couple of times in a row.
The acting was good. I can't really say anything about the acting of the actor of Henry, because we don't see his face, and only his body. So I'll start with Sharlto Copley. He had the chance to shine, because of the opportunities given by his character. Normally Copley is a good actor and this time he proves this once again. I very much liked his diverse range of acting capabilities. The actress who played Henry's wife, wasn't really that convincing to me. She couldn't really act and often just looked emotionless, which, of course, isn't a good thing. She was played by Haley Bennett, who has yet to amaze me by her performances. This one didn't really do the job. Danila Kozlovsky played the villain of the film. He gave an OK, clichéd performance, but it was good enough for what the movie was asking him to be.
The writing was just fine, nothing spectacular. The plot was pretty thin and seen before, but the first person aspect gives a twist to the whole thing. The characters were badly developed. They actually weren't developed at all, except for Copley's character, whereby he was the most likable of the few characters we see. His character was also the funniest of the all and managed to give me a few chuckles, but only his jokes were the ones that managed that. There were a lot of times the film tried to be comedic, but just failed at it. Due to the lack of characterization, I didn't feel anything for the characters and wasn't rooting for the main character. The villain is also your generic villain you see in every film. He didn't have any good motivation and he just felt flat. I didn't have any reason to hate him, nor like him. He was just there doing bad things, and that's the only thing that they give him. The film also tries to be like a first-person shooter, which I get, because of the whole first person aspect of the movie, but this wasn't transferred well into the script. Some lines felt like they could've been ripped right out of the tutorial of a shooting game, but this just didn't fit in those moments in the film. Copley is the one who's continuously telling Henry what he has got to do next, which is just very lazy storytelling. The twist at the end is something that I didn't really see coming, which sort of made up for some of the mistakes of the film. But that twist has also been done a lot of other times in a lot of movies, in which they handled it better and in which there was a better climax. In this film the climax seemed to go on forever. In the beginning it was cool and all, but after a while I just wanted it to end already, because the payoff didn't really pay off.
In the end "Hardcore "Henry", was an OK, disposable action flick, which brings an interesting, new technique to the table, that didn't really work out very well. The characters were badly written and developed, with the exception of Copley. His character was the most diverse and fun to watch. 5.4/10
Max Steel (2016)
As cliché as it could be
A teenage boy, falls in love with the prettiest girl from the school. His dad has passed away when he was a kid, and now he suddenly discovers he has superpowers.
Let's start with the basis of every film: the directing. Guess what was bad in this film? Correct, the directing. It was bland, and there was no emotion put into it at all. The shots didn't look nice, so a visual director he's not at all. But what did you expect from the same director who made "Sorority Row". I haven't seen that film, but the trailer, screenshots and reviews tell me that that movie isn't very good. The cinematography thus wasn't good either. For some reason they shook the camera at moments that it wasn't necessary to shake. The color palette they choice wasn't good either. It only made the shots look uglier. The editing was absolutely horrible. The beginning sequence was for some reason very rushed and rapidly edited. The tornado scene as well was edited weirdly. There was this black shot between some shots, but that black one was there for longer than a second. It felt really out of place and didn't add anything to the scene. I think they wanted to do this to create tension, because we have to "care" about the main character, but they failed miserably at that part. The soundtrack was also rather bad. Sometimes they tried to use the soundtrack to build up to a jump scare, which doesn't fit the movie at all. And that's another problem with the film: it wants to be too much. It wants to be a family drama, an action film, a thriller (kind of), a romance film It wants to be everything, but fails at all of these things.
Let's move on from that one and go to the acting. Or what you want to call the thing they were doing. I would refer to it as "pretending", like kids do. The actor of Max, Ben Winchell, didn't have any charisma whatsoever. His acting was flat and emotionless and it didn't feel like he liked doing what he did. He didn't portray his character well and his performance really was lacking some substance, which is quite important if he is playing the lead role in a film. The voice actor of Steel, what a dumb name is "Steel", did an OK job. He was the most "likeable" thing you'll find in the film. This was done by Josh Brener. Maria Bello and Andy Garcia were only in the movie because, I hope, to collect their paycheck. Both of them were, just like Ben Winchell, lacking in emotion. Maria Bello gave a better performance than Andy Garcia, because Garcia's performance was even funny at times. The last person was, you guessed it: also a bad actor. This one was horrendous to watch. The person I'm talking about is Ana Villafañe. She played Sofia. What she did there didn't even come close to what you would call acting.
All of the things I've just said were horrible, so the only thing that's resting is the script. That must be at least OK? No? No. The script was bad as well. Just reread the little synopsis of the film I've put at the top of my review. That summarizes the beginning of the film. Without the names of the characters this could've been a lot of superhero films. I've written it like that, just to prove how cliché this story was. I held a cliché counter during the film, but after a while, I just stopped, because there were too much. To give you a few: there's, of course, a training montage, the scene where the two good-looking leads meet each other and look in each other's eyes, the villain Every cliché out of the book you can find in this film, sadly enough. But the villain is something I really want to talk about. I saw it coming from the beginning of the film who the villain would be. The acting suggested it and when I realized that the film was rattled with clichés, I immediately knew it. They also don't try to hide it in the dialogue. There are a lot of scenes which almost directly say that he's the villain. And guess what a cliché is also? The way they kill him. It's been done so many times, but those movies were better, because there wasn't a cliché everywhere. That fighting scene too, was very anticlimactic, just like the rest of the film. The characters were also badly written. Sofia is unrealistic and stalker-ish, Max is just plain stupid and has weird character motivations/reactions. Max's reactions to the things that are happening around him were unrealistic. He doesn't panic when there's some kind of electric fluid coming out of his hands, or when he blacks out in a forest and wakes up in his bad with a rash, but totally panics when there's a flying robot. It is weird that there's a flying robot, but not freaking out with the previous named things is just very weird to me. Also, when Max finds out about his powers he googles: my fingers emit liquid energy . How funny is that? I laughed really hard at that scene, and what followed was even better. When he didn't find any results he googles: what am I? With a lot of question marks. Absolutely a hilarious scene. The flying robot, Steel, is also just an exposition machine. Max only has to ask something to it and it'll give him a "funny" answer, like "pass", or it'll rattle off everything we need to know to understand what's going on. All of the jokes were by the way bad.
In the end "Max Steel" was one of the worst films of the year. It felt like there wasn't any emotion in it and like they didn't even try to. 1/10
A Monster Calls (2016)
An adaptation that stays true to the source material
"A Monster Calls" is based on the novel with the same name. It's about a young boy, whose mother has a terminal disease. He now searches for moral support in a tree that has started talking to him.
The movie was directed by the same man who directed "The Impossible". This man is called J.A. Bayona. In this movie he did a very good job at directing the film. He used nice transactions between shots. The scene where Conor angrily closes the fence of the graveyard and the scene transact to Conor opening the door of his house. This was done so well that it seemed that the fence gate became the house door. He did that more often throughout the film. Something that I also liked was the he used perspective to create some symbolic shots. The shot that I want to give as an example is where it starts raining outside and the first raindrops that land on the window, seem to be tears from Conor, who's sitting behind the window. Clever things like that are hidden throughout the whole movie, which is something I very much appreciated from the director. J.A. Bayona is very good at creating emotional scenes and they all work. There's not a scene where the emotion feels forced. He also is a good visual director. This was also due to the very good cinematographer Oscar Faura. The use of focus was very good and so was the use of shadow. Lots of good-looking shots were created that way. There were also a lot of close-ups in the film, which really helped to show the emotions of the characters and set up a theme for the movie, which worked really well. The soundtrack I found to be unoriginal. There were a lot of songs that a lot of movies have already used, or something very similar to that song. But at times the songs really helped to set up a certain feel to the scene.
What I did like about the movie was the way the three, well two actually, stories were told. I wasn't expecting an animated sequence, but I was hoping for it. The style they went with was very good and I also liked how they integrated The Monster into them and using him as a transaction between two story parts. The animation in them was good as well. Another thing that came as a surprise was the opening credit sequence. It was drawn in the same style the novel was drawn and the result was absolutely beautiful. Now that I've praised the movie a lot, now some things that were lesser good: the CGI. The Monster looked realistic and good, but sometimes when there was an overabundant of it, it just looked messy and not good. This was mostly the case when the backdrops were created out of CGI, because at those moments you were really able to tell that the actors were standing in front of a green screen.
The acting was fantastic. The actor of Conor gave one of the best child-performances I've ever seen. Conor was played by Lewis MacDougall. At first I was very skeptical with him, but eventually he had persuaded me. He gave the best performance out of the whole film, and that says a lot, with both Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver in the movie. He did well in the emotional scene and also in the other scenes, where he didn't have to express how he felt, but only showed it through his eyes. I believe that he has a future in acting in front of him. Felicity Jones also gave a fantastic performance, one of her better performances in her career. She really sold her role. Sigourney Weaver I also liked very much. I found her English accent to be good, I didn't notice that she was an American during the film, which is, of course, a good sign. Liam Neeson did a good job at voice-acting. His voice was of course changed a bit later in post-production, but the emotion he put into his voice was very good. And lastly Toby Kebbell, who played the Dad of Conor. He was very likable in his character. This was due to the good writing for his character, but also due to the charisma Toby Kebbell has and due to his performance.
The writing was also good. The story I knew would be good, because I've read the novel myself. The adaptation of it I found to be very good. The movie followed the book very well. Only one character was left out, which didn't cause any problems. It would've only helped to develop the character of Conor, but the script of the movie did already justice enough to that part. The other characters were also developed well. The dialogue too was good. It was realistic and intriguing. There were also some lines that challenge you to think further upon them. A thing that I liked about the writing was that three stories told by The Monster were more than you'd expect. They weren't superficial, but profound. They ask you to think about them, and that's what makes the movie more for adults than for children. But also the subject matter (cancer etc.) is more suited for adults.
In the end "A Monster Calls" was a very good film. The acting and directing was very good. The actor of Conor was surprisingly good and really made you feel with him. The writing was also fantastic, what makes this movie such a good adaptation of a beloved novel. The only real negative thing on this film is the CGI. Often this looked fake and you were able to tell that it most defiantly was. Those things are the reason I'm giving this film an 8.7/10
Public Enemies (2009)
An emotionless film, with good action scenes and acting!
"Public Enemies" is a biopic about the robbing-life of John Dillinger told from his perspective and from that of the police.
Michael Mann, the director of among others "Last of the Mohicans", was also the director of this movie. In the previous named film he did a good job, in this one however, I found that it didn't live up to my expectations. He made some bold choices, whereby the movie suffered. He sometimes made it look like they were filming a documentary, which may sound logical, because it's based on a true story, but it really wasn't integrated nicely into the film and didn't fit well with what the movie had set up as a theme. He also let the camera shake a lot, which also didn't always work. Sometimes it did, like in the beginning sequence, which I by the way very much enjoyed. In that beginning sequence he used good soundtrack and changed the camera viewpoint often, whereby he has created an interesting and tense scene. Unfortunately the rest of the film wasn't as good as that first scene. Mann also used close- ups very often in this film, which gave a claustrophobic feel to the movie. That didn't fit with the movie as well. But he interchanged them at times with long shots, and due to this you weren't always caught in a claustrophobic feel. He also overused shadow and that sometimes created a nice shot, but other times it didn't work out that well. But overall this wasn't really annoying and it worked most of the times. It helped to create a dark atmosphere, and I believe that that was what Mann was trying to reach.
The cinematography wasn't the greatest too: it was not a good looking movie. Which is by the way surprising, because the cinematographer had previously worked with Mann in other movies, that did look good. Michael Mann did however capture the action scenes very good. Those were tense and exciting to watch. Those scenes were actually the one that saved the movie, unfortunately. The soundtrack, though, I found to be pretty good, just like the costume design. This really helped to create the atmosphere the movie was going for. The sets too looked realistic and helped with the previous named thing. The sound design was good as well. The gunshots and all sounded realistic to me. The editing of movies is always done in a special way with Michael Mann, and in this film that was again the case. Sometimes I was a fan of it sometimes I wasn't, because at times scenes were edited in a clever way, like with placing the head of the character in one corner and switching between two characters at different places having a telephone conversation, but their head is always at the same paces, if that was any clear. So it was a hit or miss with the editing. But I found the pacing to be good. Hence this is a two hour plus film, I was expecting dull, boring parts, but there were none, due to the good pacing.
The acting was very good. I had my doubts with Johnny Depp, because there are only two ways he performs: absolutely fantastic, or absolutely horrible. An example of an absolutely horrible performance of him can be found in the terrible, atrocious film called "Mortdecai". What a bad film. But in this movie I had a bit of hope it would lean to the fantastic side – "Edward Scissorhands" for example - , because Michael Mann was behind the camera, and it did in fact lean to the fantastic side. I very much liked his performance. Christian Bale, who played the detective trying to capture John Dillinger, too had a good acting achievement. His accent was consistent and sounded good to me. Marion Cotillard played the new girlfriend of John Dillinger. She gave a very good performance. I thought that she was the best out of the cast.
The writing was lesser good. The story was interesting and told in a good way, but it was emotionless. The characters didn't get any development, whereby you didn't care what happened to them or what would happen to them: it just felt flat. The only really emotion we see from John Dillinger is when he says what happened in his youth in a quick fashion to Marion Cotillard. And that's about it, which is kind of sad actually, because we see Jason Clarke's character in a lot of scenes with Johnny's, but yet I can't even recall his name. So when he died it just felt like another disposable cast-member died, even though this wasn't what they were going for. The dialogue, however, was well written and realistic. Some of the lines were very good, but I think that they focused a bit too much on that aspect of the script, and less on the charactorial part of it.
In the end this wasn't Michael Mann's best films, but it wasn't his worst either. The acting was good and so was the beginning sequence. The script was lacking in character development, but it succeeded at the dialogues. Nonetheless, even though the characters weren't good, Michael Mann managed to create good action sequences that held up the movie together with the acting. That's why this film gets a 6.2/10 from me.
A good kids movie that will entertain a more mature audience as well!
"Hugo" is about the titular character who lives in a train-station where he is doing the job that his dad used to do: fixing clocks. He gets to know this old shop owner, where after a chain of mysteries gets put in front of him.
"Hugo" was directed by the well-known master of cinema Martin Scorsesse. He is one of the best directors working today and all of the films I've seen of him have been good. You'd expect that he would maybe produce something worse with a movie who's target audience is children, but with "Hugo" he'll prove you wrong. He used some impressive long takes in this movie, like in the beginning and ending. The beginning scene was very CGI-heavy, which I didn't really like, but I understand why they had to do that. The CGI looked very fake, and I don't really understand why the movie got an Oscar for this part. The scene overall was good (the camera movements etc.), but the CGI was really off-putting, whereby I thought that the whole movie would be like this: CGI filled. Luckily this wasn't the case and was the other uses of CGI more subtle and worked better. Like for example the train sequence, there the CGI was way better than in the beginning, because there wasn't an overflow of it. The end scene was filmed very impressively. I saw a behind the scenes video of it, which only made the scene even better and more surprising that they even were able to pull it of.The score was nicely composed and created by Howard Shore. The movie was also beautifully filmed. Each shot was nicely framed and looked good. This was done by Robert Richardson, who had previously worked with Scorsesse in "Shutter Island", where he also proved his talent. The costume design I found to be good. It really helped to create a feel to the movie, and it also made the movie look more like it was set in the early 30'.
The acting was good even from the young actor and actress. Let's first talk about the protagonist of the story: Hugo. Hugo was played by Asa Butterfield. An actor who has showed multiple times that he is a fantastic kid actor. One example Is "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". In this movie too he gives a good performance, not as good as in the previously named film, but still pretty good, especially for a kid. Sometimes I found that the emotion he showed with his face, didn't match the emotion he put into his voice. Other times he did this perfectly and really showed his full emotion. His Co-star was Chloë Grace Moretz. She was also very good, better than Asa in this movie. Ben Kingsley played her uncle. He gave one of the best performances in the film. He was really able to portray how his character felt and we were able to feel with him, thanks to Kingsley's brilliant performance. Jude Law, for the screen time he got, was excellent. I very much liked him in the film. And last but not least I want to mention Sacha Baron Cohen. He played someone totally different from his other characters, and it worked. He was funny and acted it out very well. He was more of the comic relief for the children, but it really worked, because the jokes that were made were good for all ages and not just stupid fart jokes.
The screenplay was really well written. The story was interesting and not predictable. It sets up a little adventure that reminds you of what it's like to be a child. The story also was well constructed and by the use of flashbacks it also sets up the character of Hugo. I only have one really complaint about the screenplay and this is that at the end of the movie everything gets explained fairly obviously. I liked the twist that they put in there and that they teach the younger audience about film, but I just would've liked a more subtle approach better. I hope that this encourages kids to go watch movies of Georges Méliès, because that's where it all started. You also don't really have to know a lot of movies to understand what they are talking about, which is also a good thing. Like I've said before, the jokes were funny, and that's a good part thanks to the screenplay. There was some slapstick, but also some verbal humor. Sometimes I think that the jokes would go over the heads of children, but I think that that's a good thing, because by this you can keep the more mature audience entertained. I also liked the fact that there were some small side stories going on. Those too were funny and set up in a nice manner, whereby the added to the story and weren't just some useless images to fill up the time span of the movie.
In the end I found "Hugo" to be a good movie. It had a mix of things that adults could enjoy and that kids could enjoy, whereby the movie really becomes a good kids movie. The movie also teaches some things about early cinema which I very much enjoyed and also the way it was integrated into the movie fitted very well. 8.4/10
Rogue One (2016)
"Rogue One" is lacking in characters but succeeds in a lot of the rest!
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is about a group of Rebels, who are trying to steal the plans of the Death Star.
Gareth Edwards was an excellent choice for directing. He really nailed to make a "war" movie, which is dark and gritty, yet manages to stay pg-13 and has no desire to be rated R. He is a director who has a knowledge of scale and he shows it. During the battle sequences we see everything from the ground up: from the perspective of the protagonists. Due to this you feel more involved with the characters and the enemy also looks more imposing and scary. Edwards also used shadow in a nice why, by which he created some good looking shots. He didn't only use it to create a nice shot, but he also used it in a creative manner, by only filming the shadow. An example is the first time we see Darth Vader. He films the wall next to Krennic, so the shadow of Darth looks very big next to the small Krennic. Again, to show that Darth Vader is very dangerous and stands above all. It gives cool shots with a meaning to them. That whole scene was amazing, actually. The action scenes he handled well too. Sometimes I found these to be quickly edited, but these were mostly in the beginning of the movie. He also exchanged hand-held camera with some form of steady cam, which really worked well when Chirrut defeated the group of Stormtroopers. That and the choreography made the scene good. The last act was absolutely fantastic: I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. During that act they also used some left over scenes from the original trilogy of pilots in X-wings. It was notable, but I found it to be a cool extra.
The soundtrack was not made by John Williams, which is pretty surprising, because he had composed the score of I believe, all the other Star Wars movies. The new composer, Michael Giacchino, did a very good job. He re-used some of Williams's work, but changed them a bit. He managed to create an original score, which had a Star Wars-feel to it, which I very much liked. The special effects were some of the best that I have seen this year. This really helped with the action scenes and also with the use of the laser shot from Death Star. They were able to portray the destruction very well. Gran Moff Tarkin looked very good. First I didn't even notice that he was CG, but at some points you were able to see that he kind of looked like a video-game character.
The acting too was good. Felicity Jones played a strong female protagonist, where she showed her emotions really well. She sometimes acted a bit flat, but most of the times I liked her very much. But that flat acting was maybe to show the wall that Jyn has built up, so people can't see how she feels, and I believe that this was their goal. Diego Luna I really liked. He performed well in all of the scenes. He did have good charisma. Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang were both very good. They had good chemistry and it felt like they went back a long time. The antagonist, played by Ben Mendelsohn, was very good. He was menacing and fitted his role very well. The last thing I want to mention here is the character of Darth Vader. A lot of people said that he was underutilized, but I didn't think that that was true. He had good scenes and lines and also one of my favorite scenes of the movie. The scene where he plows through rebels like it's nothing. That scene was really awesome to look at.
The writing was good. The story was one that should've been told and it was strong on that aspect. I didn't find the story boring or lacking. What I did find a bit dull was that the character of Jyn was the only one who really was developed. From Diego Luna's character we only get one scene, in which we learn something about him, and that scene worked for me. In the beginning we also see that he is a rebel, but someone who doesn't go by as a "good-guy", because he shoots someone in the back. Now my problem doesn't lie with these two characters, but with the rest of them. They were not given anything, except for some emotionless exposition. The pilot, played by Riz Ahmed, got brainwashed, but just after a few scenes he was OK, even though Gerrera said that he would go insane. It didn't make any sense and would've been some character development. Due to the lack of rounded characters the ending didn't really emote me, whereby the death of them all was kind of useless. The acting was the thing that kind of saved this, because due to the acting I felt like they did have a character build around them. The dialogue had some good lines and was funny at times. Most of these comedic moments were given to K-2SO, which was by the way a fun character, just introduced by a lot of exposition. And that's all we get to know from him. Alan Tudyk did a good job at voice acting. The ending was very good and tied in with "A New Hope" well. Again they used CGI in that scene for the face of Leia, but I also think that that looked good.
In the end "Rogue One" was a very good Star Wars movie, whose story is one that had to be told. The ending was a nice conclusion. The characters were lacking, but the directing I found to be very good. The CGI, just like all of the shots, were good-looking and the acting was great. That's why "Rogue One" gets a 8.6/10.
One of Villeneuve's best films!
"Arrival" is based on the short story written by Ted Chiang, which is about a linguistic called Louise bank, who's hired by the army to communicate with aliens, that have landed on earth in these so called cocons.
The movie was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, because of one reason: Denis Villeneuve. I've seen nearly every movie of him, and the ones I haven't seen, I'll probably see in the near future. He is an amazing director, who pays attention to everything he brings into frame, and everything he brings into frame has some kind of meaning. In this movie that's also the case. Not as much as in "Enemy" for example, but it's there. At a certain point I thought the movie was going to be like "Enemy", because of one scene, but after all this movie wasn't as complicated. More on that later in my second to last paragraph (There'll be spoilers). He also, just like in the rest of his movies (e.g. Sicario, Prisoners), succeeds at building up tension. The scenes where Louise is trying to communicate with the aliens were always kind of tenseful, because you don't know how they're going to react. The cinematography I found to be gorgeous. The scenery, use of focus and lighting were all perfect. The use of focus was something that really caught my eye. It gave scenes a more dreamlike feel, when it had to, which kind of helped me to unravel the twist at the end. At those scenes focus was overused, but it worked. Those scenes also contained more close-ups to show the emotion of the actors, which made everything more effective. The use of colour was also handled well, which only made the gorgeous looking shots, look even more gorgeous. I found it to be a shame that Roger Deakins wasn't the cameraman for this film, but Bradford Young surprised me by doing something nearly as good. Young really captured the reveal scene of the spaceship very well. I think that that was one of my favorite scenes. The soundtrack in the background, the mist waving over the mountains, the camera movement. Everything was there to make the scene fantastic, and it was. The soundtrack was original and fitted the movie well. The CGI I found to be good at times but during one scene it didn't really live up to what the movie had showed previously. The ship and aliens themselves looked good, but there's one scene, I can't talk about due to spoilers, which didn't look good.
The acting was absolutely fantastic. Amy Adams gives again a wonderful performance. She gives depth to her character and you could really see the emotion on her face. You could see what she was feeling, due to the visual story telling of Villeneuve. There were a lot of scenes, where she just had to act, without saying a single word and we knew what was going on inside her head, because of Amy Adams wonderful acting. I really hope she gets an Oscar-nod for this performance, because it really blew me away. Her character was very interesting, but more on that in the next paragraph. Jeremy Renner also gave a fantastic performance. His performance was less spectacular than the one of Amy Adams.
SPOILERS FROM HERE.
The screenplay should also deserve an Oscar-nod for best adapted screenplay. The story was told in a weird – but good - way, whereby you get to care for the character of Louise. This was done by showing her memories of the future, mixed in with the stuff that's going on right now. This was such a creative way to build up a character that I was amazed by it. In those memories they used the focus heavily, like I've said before. The character of Louise really got fleshed out very well. The rest of the characters didn't really get the same treatment, but that's something very normal and something you shouldn't complain about, because Louise is after all the main character. I've also hear people say that Jeremy Renner's character is useless, and with that too I'll have to disagree. He indirectly helped with the character building of Louise and did also do some things himself to progress the story, so I don't see why he would be useless. Now something about the twist. Louise can see in the future. I found the twist to be kind of unexpected. I was kind of expecting some kind of answer in that direction, but not the answer we got. It was creative and something new. Due to a particular scene I was expecting something more complicated, because the twist gets explained fairly well. This scene was also the one that reminded me of "Enemy" and this was the one where Louise sees the alien in the corner. It reminded me of the giant spider in "Enemy", and because of that I was expecting a movie that you really have to think about to get. That's not entirely the case with this movie. It does make you think, but not in the way that "Enemy" does. This one makes you think about humankind and how we react in situations like these. We would just attack them, and that our society just doesn't accept different. It also makes you think about the concept of time and time loops. I loved the fact that the movie makes you think about these things, because that's when you know you've seen a good movie: when it makes you think about it, and not necessarily the things they show in the movie, but the questions it brings up. The dialogue is also very good, but at the end there's just one line that felt out of place. But that's really the only critique I have on that.
That's all I can say due to the word limit. In the end this was one of Villeneuve's best movies. 10/10
Creative and smarter than you'd expect!
"Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency"'s about Todd, a man, who's life has been going downhill, pretty fast. But suddenly things start to change, when he meets Dirk Gently, who claims he is a holistic detective and that he needs Todd to unravel the mystery of a murder, kidnapping and much more.
The show was very well crafted. Each episode had a good director, who kept a consistent style at directing. Some shots were weird looking, and didn't totally fit the scene. These shots were mostly ones that were taken from out of the sky, looking down on the characters. The tension was handled very well, which is kind of surprising that they pulled it of in a comedy show. The switch between dramatic and comedic moments was always made in a very well manner. The tense moments were enforced by the greatly composed music. It reminded me a lot of the TV-show "Utopia". Turns out it's the same composer. Both here and with "Utopia" he did a really good job in creating something unique and fitting to the show. But the similarities I found didn't stop there. The costume design (yellow jacket) and the attention to colour reminded me of that show two. The cinematography were in both shows top notch, but I believe that "Utopia" did a better job. The violence was also handled in the same way: very shocking and disturbing. They did succeed at this too. The special effects, when used, looked very good. That's also something surprising, because the show's, I believe, pretty low budget. The make-up for the blood and gore was done very well. The editing was also something that caught my eye. I liked that they showed a lot of perspectives on the case and that they showed the right amount of each. Often you have the problem that they show one part of a person's perspective, but than just skip away, even though it still was interesting. In this show that wasn't the case. They always showed the right amount, and due to this the show never got boring.
The acting was mostly good. Elijah Wood gave a very good performance. He was good in the emotional scenes as well and really brought his character to live. I'll talk about the characters in a little bit. Samuel Barnett, the actor of Dirk Gently, was fine. He had his good and bad moments, but when he had to act emotional he often made a weird looking face, that kind of fitted the weirdness of the character, but kind of didn't. It just didn't really feel right for me. But overall he gave a good performance. The actress of Todds sister I found to just give an OK performance. Hannah Marks played her. She didn't always succeed to convince me of her sadness. But in the scenes where she was suffering from her disease, she managed to give a well performance. Jade Eshete gave a good performance as well. She was very likable in her role. Gordon Rimmer gave a menacing performance. He was scary and acted it out very well. I believe that he and Elijah were the best of the cast. The last one I want to mention is someone who has played a dog. Alison Thornton did this and was actually quite good at it. The actress of Bart did a good job, but near the end I found that she broke character a bit. This could be them trying to give her a little arc, but that just didn't work out.
The screenplay of each episode was well written. It was funny at times. The jokes were sometimes creative, sometimes lazy, but overall I laughed quite a bit with them. The chemistry between Dirk and Todd was absolutely fantastic. But those two weren't the only ones who went well on scree. We have two detectives and two people from the past of Dirk who are following him. Both couples had their funny ongoing jokes that only made the show better. Bart and Ken are also worth mentioning. These two characters were complete opposites of each other, but they formed an entertaining side story. The story too was creative, smart and original. They kept you interested in watching the show, by throwing twists into the story. One of the twist I saw coming from the beginning of the show, but not the rest of them. This just brings me to the pilot episode. I think that this was the best episode of them all. It had great character introductions and made you care about Todd in just one hour. The thing about his lottery ticket was something predictable, but because the rest of the episode was written so well, I could accept the cheesiness of the thing. The characters were all well rounded and created. Some had arcs some didn't and some arcs were handled better than others. Todds character undergoes a couple of arcs and those were done well. We get to know small parts about him as the show goes on, and by every thing we get to know, he get's more realistic. Because by the end of the series we see that he is a flawed individual, who has made mistakes in his past. But this is just one example of many. The ending of season one I found to be good. The last episode was just a tiny bit to long, but that doesn't ruin it. The ending rounds of the things we've seen in season one, but also sets things up for the second season, and by doing this so well, I'm looking forward to it.
In the end this was a good show. It had a lot of similarities to "Utopia", but I didn't mind, because I found that show to be fantastic. Dirk Gently get's a 9.5/10
Le temps d'un sablier (2014)
Pleasantly surprised by this Belgian short!
Two people meet each other at a graveyard, where after they decide to talk about their loss in a bar and go to the beach.
The short movie has amazed me in a positive way. Most of the time I am not a fan of Belgian movies, because they do are very badly made. They are badly directed, acted, etc. But with this short flick, that wasn't the case. The acting I found to be relatively good. They were no Oscar-worthy performances, but it's not as bad as the acting in an average Belgian film. The directing was also handled well. The director knows how to create a good looking shot, and he has shown it multiple times in this short. His directing style isn't one-sided, which is a very good thing. He has his own style and has transferred it to the movie. Often he used static shots, but he interchanged them with a scene, which utilized a hand held camera, or one that was moving around the place so it wasn't just standing there for a minute, without a single movement. Those still shots were nice to look at but if he had used them continuously the movie would've been boring, and now he has created a stylistic looking movie. Michaël De Nijs also used a couple of fun techniques. Like by showing the contrast and similarities between the two protagonists at the ending of the movie. In that scene Sara gets home, where she has her boyfriend/husband, waiting for her and ready to comfort her. And on Robrechts side of the story, we see him also getting home, in a similar looking house as that of Sara, but he doesn't have anyone who's there to comfort him in the harsh situation he is in at the moment. This only enforces how he felt during the day that was shown in the short, gives you more inside on how he felt, and what the support of Sara did to him. Another thing I liked from the movie, took place in the beginning of the short film. This was the introduction to the characters, which we were going to star in the movie. First they showed the character leaving the house, then letting the name appear of the actor who plays the character, to then repeat this for Robrecht
I mostly look at a movie from an objective perspective, so that only a really good film can also make me watch in a subjective sense, to make me involved in the story. With this short, that wasn't fully the case. I get why some people can relate to the characters, especially if the viewer his or hers child has passed away, or if the viewer has children, but with me that wasn't the case. I only started to show sympathy with the character of Robrecht at the end of the movie, when their coming home gets shown from two sides.During that scene we also see that Robrecht is a religious person (His house is decorated with catholic items, and he has the clothes of a priest hanging on his wall), but he keeps on losing faith in it, because of his loss. We see this by him looking up at the clothes, then looking down and sighing. This also gets confirmed in the scene where he is riding his bike, with Sara sitting on the back of it. She keeps on singing songs that are about God, or at least related to him. Robrechts reaction to it is by saying that she should stop singing. It are the subtle character developments that I like to find in a movie.
I wasn't interested in watching the short in the first place and after watching the short, the story did indeed not interest me in the first place. They try to do a lot to keep a realistic feel to the short film, but the main premise sounds completely unrealistic to me. What the story is good for is to set up the characters, well mostly one of them. Robrecht was handled very well and at the end of the film, I cared a bit for him. They also tried to make you care for Sara, but for me they never succeeded in that part. It was also pretty obvious when the writers put in some character development for Sara, which didn't really help to make it more believable.
That was my review. Here's a little synopsis of it. Like I've said before in my review: the short movie surprised me. It wasn't the greatest short film I've seen, but defiantly not the worst. The subtle character developments were fun to see and they were acted out well. The short is worth a watch. That's why the short gets a 7.3/10 from me.
Captain Fantastic (2016)
"Captain Fantastic" is about a family, who's mother has passed away. Now the dad, played by Viggo Mortensen, has to bring his kids into our modern-day society to attend the funeral of their mom.
The movie was directed and written by Matt Ross. This was his second time directing. Matt Ross did a very good job at directing the movie. He was able to create a realistic feel, to an uncommon event: The kids being hyper intelligent and living in the woods, etc. Matt Ross also was able to create a pretty looking movie. The scenery looked gorgeous and the framing used by Matt Ross was done very well. The backgrounds didn't look like they were created by green screen or by the help of some special effects. Ross also has his own little style, which was notable at times, but it didn't take over the movie. The editing was at times very fast paced, but this wasn't an issue for me, because Ross integrated it very well into the movie, that it fitted perfectly. Something that the man did good as well, were the transactions between the sad parts and the uplifting/happy parts. These two things will also be mentioned in my second to last paragraph. The last thing I want to mention in this paragraph is the soundtrack. It was very well done. They used already existing songs, but also newly created songs like El Hilo De Ariadna, this one was written by Viggo Mortensen and his co-star George MacKay. The instrumentals that they chose to do these songs were unconventional, but fitted with the theme of the movie very well. The cover of "Sweet Child 'O Mine", was one of my favorites, because it was sung very well and had some good guitar to back it up. The song does fit with the situation they were in at that time.
The acting was very good. Viggo Mortensen plays the dad of the family. He once again gives a fantastic performance. I really hope that he get's an Oscar nomination for his role, but I doubt this will happen, because this was just a small movie, that has gone under the radar for a lot of your average movie goers. Viggo gives an emotional performance in which he delivers very well. He looks like a damaged man and he could show his emotions, without saying he felt sad. That's a problem with a lot of actors these days. The words coming out of their mouth insinuate that they are sad and there is a tear rolling down their cheek, but their acting is just flat. They do what they are told and don't show any real emotion and that's something Viggo Mortensen did, and that's why he deserves a nomination. Another reason I doubt this, is because of the competition this year. There were a lot of kid actors in the movie, so I'm not going to go over every one of them, I'm just going to select a few of them. Let's start of with Nicholas Hamilton. He played the more rebellious son of them all. He really was against everything his dad did. This actor was the one I disliked the most of them all. He wasn't bad, but certainly not good. He did get the hardest part to play from all of the other kid actors. He sometimes had a bit of a grin on his face even when he had to do some dramatic scenes, but at times he really nailed those as well. There were just some parts, where he didn't really live up to being good. George McKay was good as well. He played the older son, who has problems integrating into our modern-day society. He was very convincing in his part.
The writing was also very good. The screenplay was funny at times, but also sad at times. The funny parts were subtle and creative. There weren't any poo jokes like in almost every comedy these days. The sad parts were mostly commentary on the world we live in today. The movie brings up a lot of topics to think about, which I very much liked. It also doesn't give a one sided view on our reality. You'd think that we only get to see how Ben sees the world and why he went to live in the forest. This is true for the most part. And for that part you agree with Ben on a lot of topics, but when they are in the "real world" we get to know that his kids are not ready for it. They only got to study via books and not via real experiences. They only learned the words, without knowing what they really were. And that's what I really like about the movie. The characters were also very well developed. I was expecting the movie to start immediately by saying: "your mother is dead", but the movie takes its time to first set up its characters and the main premise of the movie. The characters had some arcs, which is always a good thing. The screenplay did contain some dull moments, like the part where they are stealing the body of their mom, this just felt very unrealistic to me.
In the end "Captain Fantastic" was a well acted and written movie. It was funny at times, but knew when to be dramatic. The movie will probably be under looked by the average movie goer, which is a shame, because this is one of the better movies of the year. That's why this one is getting a 9.5/10 from me.
The Accountant (2016)
Interesting narrative, which is not suited for everyone!
In 'The Accountant" we follow Christian Wolff, an autistic accountant with some skills, who get's the task of finding the lost money of some company, but doing so he discovers other things...
Gavin O'Connor, the director of "Warrior" and this movie too, did a very good job. He uses different angles, but good angles. He shoots from weird distances, but manages to keep the shots looking good. But there is a thing that ruins most of the shots. Well, "ruins" might be a bad choice of words, but I don't know how to put in another way. This was the colour palette. I didn't like the combination they went with, it just didn't look good for me. Gavin O'Connor showed in "Warrior" that he is very good at filming hand to hand combat scenes, but in this film he failed to amaze me. The parts were to shaky and too rapidly edited. But these were only the hand to hand scenes. The scenes where Ben Affleck is being a badass with a gun, the scenes look very good. The movie also starts of with an action scene, well a post-action scene. That scene was done very well, by Gavin O'Connor. He used mystery to its advantage and made you interested in the rest of the movie. Gavin O'Connor also knows that his audience ins't a bunch of idiots, so he doesn't explain everything, which is a very good thing.
The acting was very good. Ben Affleck as an autistic genius was fantastic. He once again proves that he is more than just a celebrity. He is indeed a very talented actor, director and screenwriter. Anna Kendrick, who played Dana Cummings was also very good. She was there so you had someone to relate to, and see how they reacted to the things that were happening on screen. She likable as well. Jon Bernthal was a bad ass and played his role well. J.K. Simmons managed to put his fair bit of emotion in to the movie too. It wasn't Oscar worthy, or as good as he was in "Whiplash", but he was good. The actor of young Christian was very good. He didn't overact, which could've easily been the case. There is one actor of the supporting cast, who I found didn't do a good job, and this was the supervisor in the beginning of the movie. His line delivery was really bad and immediately off-putting.
The writing is a double edged sword for me. It has a lot of subplots. And by subplots I mean, almost everything. At time it was hard to tell which was meant to be the main plot and which wasn't, so I tried my best to put down the main plot in my synopsis at the top of my review. By having so much subplots, they forget to give certain things more attention. There is also this investigation going on, in which I was interested, but they don't pay a lot of attention to it at times. But not only that story is going on. We also have Jon Berthnell killing people and we don't know why, but in the end, you realize why. We have this backstory of Wolff in prison... The list goes on. And the narrative is a bit all over the place. But this isn't that bad of a thing. The movie wants you to pay attention. That's the point of it. You'll see a bit further on that this topic comes back. What I did like about the screenplay, was that it rewarded the ones who observed what the characters were saying. Things later happen, which some people didn't get, but if you were paying attention you would get. But this too was a double edged sword, because I already knew what the twist would be, which was kind of stupid. The story has a lot going on, which I like, it challenges you to keep track of everything, and in the end we get a satisfying conclusion. Everything fits into its place, just like in a puzzle, which I think Gavin O'Connor was going for. That tiny bit of symbolism. The story also takes it's time to set up characters. Ben Afflecks character was well made and you cared for him, even though he seems like he is able to kill in just one snap. Anna Kendricks character also get's her development and J.K. Simmons his one too. The last one I mention, because that throws back to the total beginning of the movie. Here we finally get to see what really went down that day. I found that scene to be very entertaining, and fun to watch.
By all the things that I've just said in the previous paragraph, you'll see that this movie is something different. Different in it's narrative and tone. This isn't a bad thing, though. The movie has a lot going for it, but that also means that it can't succeed at everything, which is okay and acceptable. Due to this narrative a lot of people will dislike the movie, but for me it was interesting. That's why I'm giving this movie an 8.0/10