Carnage Review

It’s difficult to wrap my head around exactly how I want to approach my review for Carnage. It was a film so unlike most movies and in just that way, among many other reasons, it was a very enjoyable film. It was also a very short film and certainly kept my attention through out. It was fun, well made, well acted, but unfortunately it just didn’t amount to as much as I hoped for.

The best quality of this film were unquestionably the performances. Jodie Foster is always hit or miss very me and she was pretty good here. John C. Reilly played the most likable character and had fun with it. Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses and she was fantastic in Carnage. The best performance came from the brilliant Christoph Waltz whose instigating character was played to perfection and though you could probably consider the character the antagonist of the film, the character was in no way an evil villain. It was nice to see a great performance from Waltz in a role that wasn’t some one as a cruel as Hans Landa.

The film centered on two couples and their verbal sparring after one of their sons hits the other couples’ son with a stick. What starts as a civil conversation eventually leads to what feels like warfare. It was based on a Tony-Award winning play and as a result the filmmaking here was nothing special as it just placed the play in movie form. Sure there’s no action or much drama, but the film was a lot of fun and an excellent watch.

My biggest compliant here would be that all of this constant bickering felt like it was leading to a very exciting climax, but unfortunately the movie just ended with out much of a satisfying resolution. Once I looked past the fact that the film didn’t get to the point I wanted it do I just realized that it was a lot of fun, but it just wasn’t amazing. The film’s biggest feat is in the way it could’ve easily felt redundant from time to time, but it never ceased to entertain.

Grade: B+

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

Any time you make a sequel you run the risk of disappointing a lot of people. More often than not if you make a sequel the people who are watching it have seen and enjoyed the first one. You could make   one of those rare sequels that are actually better than the original, you could make one that’s right on par with the original or you could go the same route as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and be very disappointing. I am an avid and of the first Sherlock Holmes movie and Guy Ritchie’s other films and I will say that with out a doubt, this is the worst Guy Ritchie film I’ve seen.

This was a film that I was very excited for. Unlike a lot of people I was actually a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes and what Guy Ritchie had done with the story and I couldn’t wait to see what he’d do with Holmes’ nemesis, Professor Moriarty. I was even excited about character actor Jared Harris playing Moriarty whose performance was the most redeeming quality of this film. Unfortunately, even a good villain wasn’t enough to save the rest of the film from falling a part.

Right from the beginning there was simply something off putting about the film and it went essentially nowhere compelling from there. A lot of it just felt like one extremely dull moment after another just to lead into another one generic action sequence after another. My favorite moments of the film were the scenes between Holmes and Moriarty especially a final climactic scene involving a game of chess. Unfortunately, the rest of the film was nearly captivating enough and the decently satisfying climax was not worth the wait.

Almost everything I enjoyed about the first one I found was overplayed and almost, at times, unbearable in this one. The chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law was there, but there relationship just became more accustomed to joke-telling than with actual character and story development. Worst of all though, I felt as though the female lead was just tossed into the film so that the film could have a female lead. Noomi Rapace did a fine job, but here character was about as unnecessary as this film.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was just not a very enjoyable experience. Admittedly there were parts of the movie that were fun, but when you combine those scenes with the rest of the film you get two-hour movie that just simply was only worth the price of admission because it had the honor of showing a “The Dark Knight Rises” trailer before it. I can’t wait to watch Sherlock Holmes again because I find that a very excellent film, I can’t say the same about its sequel.

Grade: C

Bellflower Review

What to say about Bellflower? I can’t speak for everyone and say that once you’re done watching this film it will stick with you long afterwards, but it certainly has for me. It’s hard for me to say I’d recommend this film because I can see people hating it, I could see people being appalled by it, I could see people enjoying it and never wanting to see it again, and I could also see people feeling the same way about this film as I do. I loved Bellflower. It was a film that touched on a lot of themes and it did so seamlessly while telling a story that kept you wanting more. It was exhilarating, it was haunting and it was breathtaking.

Bellflower is the story of two best friends who spend most of their days preparing for a post-apocalyptic world. Woodrow and Aidan’s vision of an ideal world is one where the world has basically ended and they rule with their gang, Mother Medusa, complete with their flamethrowers and their “bad ass” muscle car that shoots flames out of its exhaust pipes. It starts out with all fun and games, but Bellflower is the story of what happens when a girl is thrown in the mix and so much more.

Bellflower begins seemingly bland with bad performances and sub-par filmmaking, but past a certain point early on in the film it was as if the performers and the filmmakers (most of them overlap) had come into their own. The performances no longer felt amateurish, but instead were real. The direction and cinematography ceased to be dull and  went the way of brilliance. It was a film that literally morphed from alright to indescribable. The more I think about the film (and trust me I can’t stop), it might have even been intentional because of the constant shift in tone of the film.

If someone were to watch this movie and not like a certain aspect, I probably loved that aspect about Bellflower. There was so much for me take away here. I loved the intentionally grainy and archaic lens that the film was shot through, I loved the palpably awkward moments between some of the characters, I loved the portrait of adolescent ambition and angst, I loved the poignant imagery, but most of all I loved the vivid and enthralling story which constantly gave you the feeling that the events and characters colliding may very well lead to the apocalypse that Woodrow and Aidan so crave.

All this to say, Bellflower was amazing. It was a film that is not only great, but also inspiring in its creation. It was made on a shoe-string budget of around $17,000 and is a much better film than most of the films that come out these days that are made for millions. There’s truthfully something in this movie that is just magical, almost unexplainable. And it’s not just the fact that it was unique in both the story and the filmmaking. There was a true passion that went into the creation of this film and it shows.

Grade: A

Beginners Review

 

When it comes to movies surrounding the subject of love there seems to be two types of relationships. Most of the time in a romance movie what is showcased can best be classified as movie love; a relationship between movie characters that can sometimes be interesting, but usually falls flat and ends up exactly where you predicted. Then, there’s that rare kind of love that few filmmakers have managed to capture; the kind that makes you truly feel for and care about these characters and makes pray that- with all their beautiful chemistry and quirky moments- happy ending is a head and not because you want the film to follow the unprinted rule of the romance film, but because you truly believe this is the kind of love that should last. In a profound tale of love, life and the ups and downs you’ll find in both, Beginners has a relationship of this kind and so much more.

In one of his best performances, Ewan McGregor plays main character Oliver Fields who finds out that his father is gay and if that wasn’t surprise for him enough, next he finds that his father has cancer. Oliver’s father, Hal, is played by the always excellent Christopher Plummer with potent honesty. In Hal you’ll find a man, who even in times of sadness, needs to have a bit of fun. The idea of the Hal Fields character could’ve been over the top, but due to the eloquent writing and a fabulous performance, the character feels real.

This bleak tale of Oliver spending as much time with his father as he can is juxtaposed with a delightful showcasing of Oliver’s growing relationship with the incredibly charming french actress, Anna. Anna is played by promising actress, Melanie Laurent. I’ve only seen her before in one of my favorite films, Inglourious Basterds, and seeing her in this once again makes me want to see her in more. The relationship between Anna and Oliver is quite honestly one of the greatest and most believable relationships ever filmed.

The other star and charmer of this film is the dog, Arthur. Every relationship in the film is not one of cinema, but one of purity. And I mean every relationship; Oliver and Anna, Oliver and Hal, Hal and his new found boyfriend, even Oliver and Arthur. Beginners effectively succeeds in the way it doesn’t try to be anything more than it is and what Beginners is, is extraordinary.

All around, Beginners is just an unbelievably spectacular film. The direction is spot on, the performances are award-worthy, the writing makes for a mellow, yet awe-inspiring tale of us and the relationships that stick with us. What else can be said? Beginners is just a truly awesome movie on all accounts, in fact I’ll say it, Beginners is a masterpiece. I only say that when its warranted and for this film it is undoubtedly warranted.

Grade: A+