Cloud Atlas Review

Cloud Atlas is a project that, as a whole, deserves admiration if only for the fact that it was such an ambitious project to undertake. It deserves even more admiration because, for the most part, they accomplished what they set out to. It’s gargantuan film and it’s hard to really take it all in, but the result is a good film.  Cloud Atlas is a movie I’m very glad was made and it’s one I’m certainly glad I saw. However, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel the need to watch it again anytime soon.

The film opens with a grizzled and tattooed Tom Hanks monologuing, the film then jumps to another story and then another and another, you get the picture. The spans thousands of years involving a handful of different characters. You begin to recognize Tom Hanks playing characters in other time periods and other actors playing numerous characters as well. “Everything is connected” is the fitting tagline to this broad film about time, creation and us.

As you could expect, this film that travels through thousands of years is quite long. Honestly, it was a bit overbearing at times. I felt very involved and excited during a few of the stories whereas others just weren’t as important. This was the problem. Of course it’s hard not to have favorites when the movies said and done, but I found myself often wanting more of one story while another one was playing. This was probably the biggest risk in undertaking this daunting task and the funny thing is that the stories that felt the most useless were probably the best ones so what does that say about the movie as a whole?

The Wachowskis have made something to be remembered here. Some of it is completely riveting and if the entire film was as good as some of its parts then we would really have something of a marvel. As I stated before, they did accomplish what they set out to, at least that’s what it felt like. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the extraordinary film it wanted to be or could have been. I’m not going to down grade it for what it could’ve been though, I’m going to grade it for what it is and it was good. Although, I feel as though I could’ve gotten what I wanted out of it from simply watching the trailer.

Grade: B

Top Six Star Wars Movies

The Star Wars Saga is a staple in not only the the science-fiction genre, but the movie industry as a whole. Back in 1977, audiences were taken on a vast and mythical journey and I imagine were blown away by something so fresh, little did they know the true journey that had just begun. Rumor is that Star Wars Episode VII is to be released in 2015 by Disney who just purchased the franchise for over 4 billion dollars and I’m very excited to see what will be done with it. I whole heartedly believe there’s no way anyone could possibly make worse Star Wars movies than Episode I and II. I won’t lie and say I’m even that huge of a Star Wars fan, but I think the saga is a substantial piece of filmmaking and very enjoyable to boot. Here’s an ordered list of the films thus far.

6. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones is horrible, that’s all there is to it. I consider it to be one of my least favorite films if only for sheer disappointment value. Even after the disappointment that was Episode I, I thought there was no way he could make a worse Star Wars movie so I was excited for the sequel. I was wrong, Attack of the Clones is worse, much worse. Attack of the Clones is just the perfect example of spectacle taking the forefront. It didn’t matter how bad the movie was, it had enough battles and explosions.

5. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace was the Star Wars movie everybody wanted to see. Star Wars had acquired its gargantuan fan base with the original trilogy, so upon the announcement of a new Star Wars movie how could anyone who witnessed the original Star Wars story not succumb to a bit of excitement. Then, unfortunately, everyone actually saw the movie. Yes, The Phantom Menace was a disappointment, but I will always argue that it is not the worst one. Sure Jar Jar Binks sucks, but at least Episode I had the pod race, Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul.

4. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

With Return of the Jedi, the Star Wars saga is brought to a supremely entertaining and satisfying conclusion. Luke Skywalker fulfills his destiny of becoming a legendary Jedi worthy of honor and glory, while the redemption of Darth Vader is simply breathtaking. This is all while adorable Ewoks help prevail over the evil Empire on Endor. Return of the Jedi was tasked with a lot and though it wasn’t as groundbreaking as A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, it tells a great ending to a great story.

3. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

A princess, a wise jedi, an iconic villain, a rising hero, two quirky droids, a fuzzball and Han Solo; these are the chess pieces that make up the game that is the first extraordinary excursion into the galactic epic that is, Star Wars. There’s a sense of adventure around every corner and on every new planet you see. The characters you meet are memorable and vital to the telling of quite the tale of the forces of good and evil. A New Hope was the story that started it all and it is a spectacular one. It’s truly a classic movie that will forever remain in the pages of history and the minds of the fans inspired by its excellence.

2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

In terms of progression of story, if A New Hope is a thrilling adventure than The Empire Strikes Back is a poetic drama. While hope was indeed instilled back into the galaxy with the arrival of a Rebel Alliance in A New Hope, that hope is all but vanquished when the empire strikes back. There are different worlds, new faces, thrilling set pieces, action, inspiration, betrayals and a few surprises. “No. I am your father,” the sith lord, Darth Vader, reveals to his fallen son in arguably the most pivotal scene in all of Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back is one of the most astounding sequels ever created. I thought A New Hope was amazing, but it was all leading to this.

1. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the greatest of the six Star Wars films. It’s my favorite and it has been since I first viewed it back in 2006, so sue me for loving one of the prequels better than the original trilogy. Darth Vader is my favorite character in the Star Wars saga (Hayden Christensen’s performance is definitely lacking, he did some maturing since his awful performance in Attack of the Clones) and in Revenge of the Sith we witness the birth of this powerful villain. It’s a dark and very fascinating story in its prominence and its not without some extravagant spectacle.

The film is just chock full of evildoers from Count Dooku to General Grievous, and of course the malevolent Emperor Palpatine. The arc and villain at the heart of the film is Vader and there’s never a point when I’m not having a good time watching Episode III. It’s hard not to root for the wise and good-hearted Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The film culminates in an epic battle between master and apprentice on the eruptive planet, Mustafar. It’s the greatest moment in Star Wars and just one scene that helps make up for the greatest Star Wars movie that is ever likely to be made.

Top Ten Movie Friendships

This is a list I was just recently inspired to make. Once I got started, there were many options, but it wasn’t actually too difficult of a list to make. I realized very early on that this wasn’t just a list of the closest friends in film, it was a list of my favorite friendships in film and what they meant to their stories as a whole. It was interesting to also look at each individual character and the part they played in the friendship. It was fun list and I hope you enjoy.

10. The Dude and Walter Sobchak (The Big Lebowski)

Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski and Walter Sobchak are two loyal buddies who enjoy conversation, each other’s company and bowling. The Big Lebowski is my favorite comedy and the two main characters are great friends, but part of the hilarity comes from the fact that The Dude and Walter contradict each other so much. The Dude is the chillest of chill, he let’s things slide and lazes around without a care in the world, while Walter is a Vietnam veteran prone to screaming and pulling out his “piece”.

9. Billy Bickle and Hans Kieslowski (Seven Psychopaths)

If you didn’t get the chance to catch Martin McDonagh’s masterpiece, Seven Psychopaths, I’d get on that. Yes, Marty and Billy Bickle are best friends and to watch Billy violently attempt to inspire Martin to finish his most recent screenplay is thrilling. However, in this story about stories, the friendship that offers the juiciest inspiration to Martin’s story is one between Billy and the wise and mysterious, Hans. Hans takes life as it comes whereas Billy has plans to tell his story how he sees fit.

8. R. P. McMurphy and Chief Bromden (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

One Flew OVer the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the greatest movies ever made and the more interesting relationship involved is one between a hero and a villain. However, there are some great friendships formed in the film and the most beautiful of all is the friendship between the free-spirited Randle Patrick McMurphy and quiet Chief Bromden. Chief Bromden is the patient affected most by McMurphy’s will to stand up against the oppressive Nurse Ratched. The friendships leads to one of the greatest endings in film.

7. Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin (The Social Network)

The Social Network is a generation-defining masterpiece and it’s not about Facebook. It uses Facebook and this internet age we live in to tell a timeless tale of people and their nature. At the heart of this extraordinary film is a friendship that exemplifies betrayal. “I was your only friend. You had one friend.” Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were best friends at Harvard University before the multi-billion dollar company, Facebook, got involved. Eduardo is merely “left behind” in the wake of Mark’s rise.

6. Aidan and Woodrow (Bellflower)

Insipered by Mad Max, Aidan and Woodrow are two best friends who aimlessly spend their days making flamethrowers and bad ass cars for their post-apocalyptic gang, Mother Medusa. The only problem is that the apocalypse hasn’t happened yet so until then they’ll seemingly spend their days drinking, hanging and preparing. That is until a girl makes her way into the picture. Aidan is one of the most loyal friends in film. He’ll do anything for his best friend. It’s too bad I can’t say the same about the adolescent antihero, Woodrow.

5. Andy Dufresne and Red (The Shawshank Redemption)

I’ve never personally met a single person who wasn’t moved by the beautiful movie that is The Shawshank Redemption. It’s a stupendous film hardships, hope and the saving grace of friendship. The two friends at the center of this flawless film are none other than Andy Dufresne and Ellis Boyd Redding. Andy and Red are two charming, kind, intelligent and loyal friends. They are also prisoners at Shawshank prison and it’s their friendship that unites them through hell and to eventual freedom.

4. Sam and Frodo (The Lord of the Rings)

The Lord of the Rings isn’t just one of the greatest movies of all time, it’s one of the greatest stories ever told. We are taken on an epic journey and one friendship stands not on;y as the best, but also as the most important for without it middle earth would’ve never been saved. “Frodo wouldn’t have gotten very far without Sam”, those words spoken by Frodo at the end of The Two Towers are honest and true. The friendship between Sam and Frodo is a lasting one that overcomes the fiercest of obstacles. If the two didn’t have each other Middle Earth would’ve never been saved.

3. Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd (The Master)

This was actually the friendship that inspired the making of this list. The Master just came out recently and I was blown away. It’s a modern masterpiece that exudes brilliance with every passing second. It tells a poetic and powerful story about obedience and control. At the heart of The Master is the relationship between a leader and a follower. Freddie Quell is a drifter, a confused man looking for purpose after a violent world war. In a word, Quell is lost until he meets one Lancaster Dodd. Dodd is the influential leader of a religious following entitled The Cause. There’s a unspoken battle of power between the two them, but at the same time there’s an underlying love between them. They care about each other, but they’re just following different paths.

2. Narrator and Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Fight Club is and always will be one of my favorite movies. It’s a dark, nihilistic and extraordinary look at a bored generation. There is just layers and layers of meaning behind the enthralling masterpiece that is Fight Club. The friendship that drives this raw and insane drama is the friendship between the Narrator of the movie and the charismatic Tyler Durden. The Narrator is the white collar worker who exemplifies that bored generation I mentioned, while Tyler Durden is the anarchist and chaos that takes him out the mundane funk he seems to be in. However, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the mystery that is Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is one of the greatest characters in the history of film and it’s a relationship with him that tells one of the greatest stories of all time.

1. Batman and Commissioner Gordon (The Dark Knight Legend)

The friendship between Batman and Jim Gordon represents the greatest friendship in film. The Gotham police Commissioner, James Gordon is Batman greatest friend and ally. Not only are they true friends, but their friendship is solely based on the idea of fighting the good fight against the forces of evil. Batman is an absolute good, he does what he does because it’s the right thing to do. Commissioner Gordon is a good cop, one of the few. He’s a good man, a hero worthy of praise, but he has to do the good things he does under the confines or “shackles” of the law.

“A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat on a young boy’s shoulders to et him know the world hadn’t ended”. The life of the greatest hero in existence can be a lonely one and without the lasting friendship between noble cop, Jim Gordon, Batman would not have been able to overcome the chaos and despair that he overcomes. Batman and Gordon don’t hug, or catch up, they don’t go out for coffee, invite each other over for family dinners, or catch a movie. The friendship between Batman and Commissioner Gordon is based around protecting the innocent and the good people who can’t fight for themselves. It’s the greatest friendship in any story ever told.

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Seven Psychopaths Review

Seven Psychopaths offers an entirely memorable experience involving guns, blood, the written word, a dog and people one can only describe as psychotic. There was never a moment in the film where I wasn’t either laughing or completely engrossed in the story at hand.  With the extraordinary Seven Psychopaths, Martin McDonagh has written and directed a film about a screenwriter named Martin who is attempting to write a movie called Seven Psychopaths.

Martin McDonagh is the writer and director responsible for another fantastic film entitled, In Bruges. It’s been four years since he’s made his last and first movie. In Bruges was a brilliant film that was not only funny, but odd, dark and deep. Seven Psychopaths is his second film and not only is it better than his first film, but I don’t see him being able to top this masterpiece any time soon. Through a story that is both insightful and beautiful, Seven Psychopaths conquers the task of being completely hilarious and endlessly entertaining all while examining and commenting on itself as a film and the medium as a whole.

Seven Psychopaths tells an insane and imaginative tale about a screenwriter’s attempts to finish latest work and the friends helping him accomplish just that as they all have to hide from a crazy mobster, but loving pet owner, who wants the dog back from the screenwriter’s friends who just kidnapped it. The story is simple enough, which makes room for the layers and layers of prominent meaning underneath the surface.

The acting is simply phenomenal. And I mean by every performer. Colin Farrell proves himself as a leading man, while Woody Harrelson is great as the so called “chief villain”. The best performances come out of the secondary and best two characters in Seven Psychopaths. Sam Rockwell performs as brilliantly as ever as Martin’s chaotic best friend. On top of that, the real talent comes out of the restraint, confidence and artistry exemplified in Christopher Walken’s performance of the wise and gentle, Hans.

Whereas Seven Psychopaths is at times derivative, it is a completely unique and enthralling film because there is a point to the few stereotypes. The film is witty and poetic. One scene may be absolutely hysterical, while another is intense and dramatic. Seven Psychopaths is a vast and eloquent movie about stories and the people and experiences that inspire those stories. It’s a masterpiece and one I plan on enjoying over and over and over again.

Grade: A+

Sinister Review

Horror movies are always a good time, whether they’re good or bad. If they’re good, they’re good and if they’re bad, they’re funny. I often catch the occasional horror film because I’m a big fan of the genre. Sinister was a horror film I couldn’t ignore. It had been getting a lot of attention and good reception and it actually looked pretty interesting. I don’t want to say that Sinister was a pleasant surprise because Sinister was anything but pleasant, but it was a good movie and quite the amazing horror movie.

Sinister was no perfect horror film and I don’t think it was trying to be one. It had its flaws, like some corny dialogue that felt out of place during some very dark sequences and the obvious flaw you find in a lot horror films of the choices the characters make. I wasn’t much bothered by slight problems such as these because the film made up for its few problems with a horrific story of macabre and the otherworldly.

The story follows true crime author, Ellison Oswalt (a part Ethan Hawke really juices for all its worth and in all the best ways). Unbeknownst to his family, Oswalt has just moved them into the prior home of the murder victims he’s writing his next book about. After all, he was able to get it for a “steal”. Little does he know that this decision has just plagued his family with something much more terrifying than he could’ve possibly imagined. As if the hanging of four family members wasn’t horrific enough, he slowly begins to realize that there may be a much more sinister conspiracy surrounding these murders.

The film plays well with audience expectations and the idea of things that go bump in the night. The film attempts to make you feel as frightened, uncomfortable and alone as it’s troubled protagonist and most of the time it actually succeeds. Unlike many other horror films there’s a lot to the story and rarely is the film not progressing and offering both entertainment and scares. Also, while the film does offer some jump scares, it doesn’t rely to heavily on them because the film seems much more concerned with its simple and genuinely frightening story. That’s something I can respect a lot in a modern horror film.

Sinister is a twisted and unrelenting film and for good reason, director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) is attempting get under your skin and scare you. There’s not much more frightening than the dead, demons, disturbing murders and a disdain towards human life. Sinister is film that gets it right. It was a well made film and it did what it set out to do in the way it offered the kind of horror story you tell around a campfire to scare your friends and the kind of twisted tale that can stick with you long after.

Grade: B+

Top Ten Alfred Pennyworth Quotes

Just recently, I made a list of Top Ten Batman Quotes and before that I made lists of Top Ten Bane Quotes and Top Ten Joker Quotes, I’ll probably make similar lists of characters from The Dark Knight Legend, but for now I decided to make a list of my favorite Alfred Pennyworth quotes. It was one of my easier lists to make. As with every character in the greatest story in existence, Pennyworth’s lines are meaningful, eloquent and completely riveting. As I began to appreciate his dialogue, I realized it wasn’t a difficult task to realize which quotes were more important to both me and the story. Alfred was the man responsible for the raising, care and love of Bruce Wayne, the man who would become Batman. The gentle and wise butler whose always been there as a friend and father-figure to the greatest hero in existence is quite the magnificent character.

10. “You have inspired good, but you spat in the faces of Gotham’s worse criminals. Didn’t you think there might be some casualties? Things were always going to get worse before they got better.”

9. “Rachel believed in what you stood for, what we stand for. Gotham needs you.”

8. “I’m so sorry. I failed you. You trusted me and I failed you.”

7. He’s not being a hero. He’s being something more.”

6. I’ve sewn you up, I’ve set your bones, but I won’t bury you. I’ve buried enough members of the Wayne family.”

5. “Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

4. “It means your hatred. And it also means losing someone that I have cared for since I first heard his cries echo through this house. But it might also mean saving your life and that is more important.”

3. “Endure, Mr. Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of the Batman. He can be the outcast, he can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.”

2. “We burned the forest down.”

1. “I never wanted you to come back to Gotham. I always knew there was nothing for you here, except pain and tragedy. And I wanted something more for you than that. I still do.”

 

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