50/50 Review

I’m finding it hard to get started here without making this just like any other review of a great movie, but I suppose I can start with the facts. 50/50 is a touching film about a young man’s diagnosis with cancer and how his life and lives of the people around him are affected. It may be common knowledge at this point, but the reason this film was created was because the screenwriter, Will Reiser, dealt with similar issues when ┬áhe was diagnosed with cancer. In this way, it’s hard not to find honest and true moments making 50/50 an excellent movie through and through.

In a film that combines heartfelt drama with laugh-out-loud comedy, you’ll find in 50/50 a truly compelling and enjoyable story. Seth Rogen is hilarious as always delivering his signature blend of comedy, Anna Kendrick is always enjoyable, but the true star here is of course Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This is a young actor confident in his ability and rightfully so because he really is an incredible actor, his performance in 50/50 is nothing short of breath taking.

Every single moment, story arc or plot point in this film had the potential to fall apart and seem forced or even stereotypical. Instead, 50/50 is a breath of fresh air. It’s a difficult task to put your finger on exactly why that is because it’s honestly a combination of everything. Take most of the fundamental reasons dramas can be great and the fundamental reasons comedies can be great, put them in a blender and the delicious beverage that results is 50/50.

In a film with a simple story about fighting cancer, 50/50 tells a timeless tale about playing the cards you are dealt. At times you find yourself looking at your own situation and asking what you’d do in this situation. You draw similarities between your own friends and family. It’s somewhat ridiculous how much a single film can make you feel from time to time. This film is able to accomplish so much due to its subject matter and because it is a very well made film on all accounts.

Just about everything in this movie works. When the characters are sad, you are sad, when the characters are happy, you are happy, when the characters are laughing, you laugh and best of all the film isn’t forcing or tricking your emotions. It’s just that these characters are so honest and relatable that it’s hard not to feel real emotion. There’s not much else that can really be said here, 50/50 was an awesome film and I can’t wait to own it and watch it over and over again.

Grade: A

Drive Review

When you do something enough you find out what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, what you find difficult and what you find easy in regards to that something. Take for instance, writing a movie review. I’ve found that generally it’s rather easy to write a review for a bad movie, it’s fun to rip it a part. There’s those movies in the middle of good and bad that can be a little more difficult at times because you find you have to nitpick, but the true difficulty comes when you find you have to review a truly incredible film that you’d consider a gift to cinema. You find yourself wondering if you’ve given it enough respect and fully established why the film is as good as it is. This is a very difficult review to write because Drive isn’t just the best movie of the year so far, it’s one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.

Where do we begin? The music? Not yet, we’ll get to that. The direction? We’ll save the best for last. The acting? Maybe in a bit. The writing? We’ll get to that soon. The violence? That will certainly be talked about. How about the characters? The mood? The setting? The subtleties? The action? The art? How about we just start with a bit of a plot summary? That works. Drive is a film about a man who drives for movies, but moonlights as a getaway driver. He becomes close with a beautiful woman and her son. When he finds they may be in danger, he stops at nothing to see to their safety.

Obviously I’m keeping a lot of key plot points out so that you can discover them for yourself, but yes the plot and story aren’t very complex nor is the writing. I for one don’t like to be spoon fed information and in Drive you find some of the greatest examples of showing and not telling. Every single piece of story that needs to be told is told, no more no less. Every single aspect of the movie is well thought out, fascinating, and put together seamlessly, making for the magnificent movie that it truly is.

In Drive you’ll find fabulous actors playing relentlessly interesting characters with depth and feeling. There is not an intense, dramatic or loving moment that doesn’t work because the moments are never forced, they’re honest. Ryan Gosling is fantastic as the hero for his time and place, Albert Brooks is amazing as the conflicted villain, with Ron Perlman as the brutish partner, it’s ridiculous how brilliant Bryan Cranston is in “Breaking Bad” and to see him acting here in a completely different part just makes you want to smile, and Carey Mulligan is equally as enticing as the pure and innocent female lead.

This is the work of a truly master director, Nicolas Winding Refn, who defines his direction from the moment the film begins and keeps it constant through out. He cares about his characters, he cares about the story he’s telling, he cares about every single detail, at the end of the day it’s clear to see that the man doesn’t care about the paycheck, he cares about his movie and it shows. Subtly, with a direction that is cool and calculated, Refn blends and balances the worlds of beautiful art and pure entertainment and the only way you can describe it is perfection.

Every supreme brush stroke that makes for the beauty that is Drive was slaved over and created to be savored. Whether you’re taking in the uniquely timed and surprisingly fitting music, the raw and honest violence that’s some how done tastefully even though it’s some of the most grotesque violence ever placed in an artistic film such as this, the specifically chosen and delectable shots, the palpable and real relationships between the compelling characters, or any number of the many aspects that make this a brilliant film because that’s just a few, than you’re simply taking in one part of the extraordinary big picture that is Drive, a film that is, by all definitions of the word, a masterpiece.

Grade: A+

Moneyball Review

It’s sad to take an entire genre of films and pass judgement on it. I will say though that for the most part I’m not a huge fan of sports movies. Obviously there are some great sports movies. Just last year, The Fighter came out and that was a great movie. There’s even occasions, rare ones, but occasions where you’ll find a masterpiece in the sports genre, take for example my favorite sports film, Raging Bull. For the most part though sports films just seem to follow a similar pattern and in that way lack a certain level of thrill or even entertainment. Moneyball may have in some aspects followed similar patterns, but it managed to be a truly awesome movie.

Moneyball is a brilliant film that looks at Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, and his attempt to make his baseball team a champion regardless of the fact that they have the least money of all other baseball franchises. There are a few details that make Moneyball slightly stereotypical, because the story is told from such a different and interesting perspective and executed so well.

I am not a very avid sports watcher and as a result I did not know this particular story as some of my friends did. Subsequently, there was actually a lot of drama in this movie for me. I had no idea what was going to happen and I was interested through out. And I could care less how historically accurate the movie is because that’s exactly what it is, a movie. The ideas it was establishing dealt with a lot more powerful issues than just baseball and the ideas were expressed due to the plot and brilliant execution of this particular story.

The acting in this film is pristine. Philip Seymour Hoffman is always a positive, this is Jonah Hill’s best performance and you can’t go wrong with Brad Pitt in a leading man role because he’s never given a performance that wasn’t satisfactory. There have been some dull movies, but he’s always played his part. He’s a truly magnificent actor and he’s fantastic in Moneyball.

In the film Moneyball, what you find is a very inspiring and yet honest tale about overcoming even the most relentless obstacles and never forgetting to believe in what’s important. I’ve truly never been as enthralled with another baseball movie than I was with Moneyball. It was written in the unwritten contract of movie reviewing that you have to make some kind of pun when reviewing a sports film so here it goes, Moneyball was a home run.

Grade: A