Top Ten Movies of 2012

When it comes to movies, 2012 is the kind of year other years should aspire to be. This was a year full of life changing films, films that resonate in their excellence and astound in their innovation. I loved 2012 and would go as far as to call it my favorite year in film. Subsequently, this was a list I could not wait to make. It’s a list that celebrates my favorite year in film, how could I not be excited to write it? Well, let’s get into it.

10. Prometheus

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Prometheus tells a sort of Greek tragedy in the form of a bleak and beautiful science-fiction odyssey. This is Ridley Scott’s greatest film since Gladiator and it’s a wonder that it happens to be in a genre he helped define back in 1979 and 1982. He redefines it here with a glorious tale of searching for the answers to life’s biggest questions and the cataclysmic events that ensue when curiosity gets the better of us. To tell his tale, he also crafts a character study of a human and a robot. Michael Fassbender enthralls in his portrayal of David.

9. Lincoln

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Lincoln is without a doubt one of the best biopics I’ve seen. Everything just works. Steven Spielberg obviously knows how to make a great film and when he has the greatest living actor working hard to play the main character of his film, you’re essentially guaranteed one hell of a movie. Every supporting actor does a great job, but Tommy Lee Jones deserves a lot of recognition for his scenery chewing performance. Daniel Day-Lewis is the real star here though and his performance is breathtaking.

8. Silver Linings Playbook

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David O. Russell takes boy meets girl genre conventions and flips them on their head. Silver Linings Playbook tells a tale as touching and engrossing as it is inspirational. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro all give knockout performances with their human characters. We follow Pat on a road to self-discovery after his stint at a mental institution. Evey living person is different and this is a superb film about people and the relationships inspired by ones own defining characteristics.

7. Looper

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This is Rian Johnson’s third film and once again he hits it out of park because I loved Brick and The Brothers Bloom, but Looper is his best film yet. Looper may very well be the greatest film involving time travel that I’ve seen and that’s because Looper isn’t about time travel, it subtly uses the idea of time travel to tell an imaginative tale of life, death and the choices that can change everything. Joseph-Gordon Levitt is brilliant in his role of the younger Joe (a hard hitting Bruce Willis) and the movie as a whole is a fascinating drama with delightful tricks up its sleeve.

6. Seven Psychopaths

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Seven Psychopaths is an oddity of a film about film, stories and the people that inspire those stories. Martin McDonagh blew me away with In Bruges and he takes it up a few notches with this masterpiece of reflexivity, nut cases and inspiration. Everyone does their part justice, but the real magic comes from Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken as Billy and Hans. Though they’ve gotten protagonist Marty involved in a dog-napping scheme, Billy and Hans want to help Marty finish his latest screenplay at whatever the cost.

5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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When all is said and done, like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit trilogy may make for one of the greatest stories ever told. The masterpiece that is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey does after all begin the story flawlessly.  Much to Bilbo Baggins’ resistance, he is thrust into an adventure that will change his life and middle-earth forever. The film is just an amazing time from start to finish, every single moment was fun and glorious. My mouth is watering with anticipation for the rest of the story.

4. The Master

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Four years after his magnum opus Paul Thomas Anderson proves that all he knows how to make anymore is masterpieces. There is just miraculous beauty to any Paul Thomas Anderson film. Everything he puts in front of the camera is made gorgeous by perfect camera work and direction. The Master examines Freddie Quell, a drifter lost and looking for his way after WWII. He soon stumbles upon an enigmatic and powerful man, Lancaster Dodd. There is a mysterious nature in the way this tale delves in with so much substance, but does so with the examination of a single friendship. The relationship between these two men envelops an extraordinary story of obedience and control.

3. Django Unchained

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Django Unchained was the gorgeous piece of art it was meant to be. In a year this perfect, it would only make sense that Quentin Tarantino would unveil his most recent masterpiece. As his new friend and mentor, Dr. King Schultz, unchains him from his shackles, Django instantaneously falls into his role as a heroic and vengeful freed slave. He’s a total badass and together with his wise new partner they epitomize a force to be reckoned with against the harsh and brutal atrocity that is slavery. The film is relentless in its intensity and constantly a blast.

2. Skyfall

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If I had been told that my second favorite movie of 2012 was going to be a 007 movie, I just would not have believed it. I loved Casino Royale the first time I saw it and I continue to enjoy it this day. I am a firm believer that Casino Royale is a perfect Bond movie, while Skyfall is a perfect movie. Skyfall utilizes and pays homage to conventions from what has become a full-fledged and changing genre, Bond film. Through this icon, it also manages to tell an extraordinary story about the past and how it may shape the future it doesn’t define it.

In order to tell a magnificent story sometimes you need a magnificent villain. With Silva (Javier Bardem), Skyfall offers nothing short of the perfect Bond villain. This is a story about Bond and Silva and it’s a story about M. James Bond is country man and a reactionary hero who will stop at nothing to see the job done and in Skyfall his job is makes its grand and slithery entrance in the form of Silva, a savage and sadistic mastermind, a betrayer who too will stop at nothing to see to it he’s done what he was always meant to do. Skyfall evokes a gorgeous tale of the ways of the old and making way for the new. There’s a kinetic justice in the narrative and every moment of the film is flawless.

1. The Dark Knight Rises

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The Dark Knight Rises is a gargantuan epic and a masterpiece of the highest caliber. It’s almost magic, the way Nolan makes every image and moment of the film absolutely pivotal. Christopher Nolan is a visionary, the greatest director working today. I am blown away at every turn. This is a continuation of a great hero’s journey, the greatest. This is a man who fights for good and justice and does so because it’s the right thing to do. There’s been many friends and foes along the way and The Dark Knight Rises is filled to the brim with engrossing characters.

Christian Bale gives his best performance yet and the same can be said about every actor stepping back into their character’s shoes again as well as the newcomers, whether they be the mysterious Selina Kyle, the courageous Detective Blake, the kind-hearted Miranda Tate or the malevolent villain. In The Dark Knight Rises Batman faces off against the tactical and ruthless brute force that is Bane. Tom Hardy does wonders with a role in which he can only rely on his eyes to tell the story. And what a spectacular story it is. The Dark Knight Rises is the third installment in a series of films, yet with grace and a clear tone it delivers with fresh and glorious territory.

It’s almost 2013 and 2012 will have come and gone. This is a year that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time because this was the year that my favorite story came to an end. In 2005 Bruce Wayne took his hero’s journey and became Batman. In 2008 Batman faced off against his nemesis, The Joker. What was realized was the perfect tale of good, evil and balance. In The Dark Knight Rises Batman becomes the hope to counter the despair that faces his city. If The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is about one thing, it’s about hope and when it came to The Dark Knight Rises I hoped it would be a masterpiece, but little did I know, the entirety of The Dark Knight Rises is the perfect ending to the greatest story ever told.

Skyfall Review

Skyfall is quite the film. I loved Casino Royale, it was just this perfect telling of James Bond’s first mission and I couldn’t help but think I’d never see a better Bond film. It was that good. I’m also one of the few who loved Quantum of Solace. Was it Casino Royale? No, and it wasn’t trying to be. It was Quantum of Solace, a fast-paced and precisely devised action film that continued the real and raw drama that began in Casino Royale. Skyfall was something completely new and not only is it the greatest 007 movie I’ve seen, it’s one of the greatest films ever made.

The film opens with a black and blurry silhouette of a man. The man walks towards us eventually having his eyes illuminated revealing the pearly blues of the greatest James Bond in 50 years and 23 films. The film jumps right into it with a thrilling chase sequence, the kind of action you have to expect from the Daniel Craig versions of the character. The scene is a better action sequence than any of the previous Craig movies and there were even better action sequences still to come. If one were to look at the film for its action elements it’s one of the best ever crafted, but action plays second tear in this epic of characters, emotion and the ways of old and new.

While no Bond film has ever cut deeper with such powerful themes, the true center of this film is James Bond. It’s his show and in this perfect 007 movie James Bond may go on his most spectacular mission yet, but that’s not all. Director Sam Mendes actually takes his time and asks questions about this character who has been going on missions for the past 50 years. For example, what makes James Bond James Bond? But more importantly he asks, how much longer can this man be doing this? In Skyfall, the greatest secret agent of all time must prove himself against the most formidable and sinister adversary he’ll ever face.

Raoul Silva (formerly Tiago Rodriguez) is a malevolent mastermind not bent on world domination mind you. No, he’s much more concerned with revenge against the person who means most to Bond in this world. A good villain usually makes for a good movie and Silva is one of the greatest villains in film. In the beginning, there is a mystery that is the villain of Skyfall, with only whispers of some evil menace plotting in the backdrop. Then Silva makes his grand entrance almost halfway through the film, his audience being a captive 007. Silva is a theatrical and confident man with a single agenda, he’s a former MI6 agent and now he’s a betrayer dedicated and bent on vengeance against M. James Bond is dedicated to his duty and in this case it’s very personal; the protection of M.

Judi Dench is given much more territory with M this time around and she excels with it. Bérénice Marlohe and Naomie Harris are great. Ben Whishaw is a real delight to watch as Q, a new school tech guy who juxtaposes extraordinarily with Daniel Craig’s seasoned veteran. The Skyfall interpretation of James Bond and Raoul Silva are simply two of the greatest characters in film. Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem have their unique characters realized down to a “T” both giving tremendous performances.

Skyfall is a film that is very derivative of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down). Sam Mendes has openly stated that he was inspired by Nolan’s work with Batman. I can’t fault Mendes for being inspired by the best. Skyfall is a different film and it was made to perfection. It utilized an icon to delve into broader motifs and darker territory. This is a James Bond film made by people and for people who appreciate the beautiful art form that is film.

Skyfall is one of the greatest films I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. It’s a film that looks and feels beautiful. It emotes so much depth and artistry, while masquerading as a simple action piece. This is just an example of a film getting every single finite detail perfectly, whether that be a character arc, the film’s extraordinary structure or even something as simple as a one-liner. Skyfall is nothing short of a masterpiece of the highest caliber.

Grade: A+

My Best Friend’s Top 25 Movies

Recently, my best friend took some time, thought for a while, and eventually performed the liberating task of making a list of his top 25 favorite movies. I made one a while ago, Top 25 Movies. It’s quite the experience to establish to yourself exactly what movies you love and just how much you love them. My friend made his list and I thought it would be fun to post his list of favorite movies just to show a differing opinion. Part of the fun of movies is discussing them and what they mean and it’s all subjective so why not look into someone else’s cinematic opinion?

25. The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is a modern classic. It’s a dark and thrilling movie about murder and the mind. The Silence of the Lambs tells the tale of an ambitious FBI in training as she tracks the whereabouts of a psychotic killer. However, the killer you become more fascinated by is the intelligent, charming, and sinister, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In order to catch her killer, Clarice Sterling gets into the mind of a one through Anthony Hopkins’ chilling Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.

24. The Shining

The Shining is a masterpiece of a horror movie and an epic as only Stanley Kubrick could make. It’s a fascinating haunted house story that makes you feel as isolated and uneasy as its main characters. As the evil that is The Overlook Hotel subtly consumes a family, you can’t help but be enthralled by the madness and the drama. The Shining offers an unreal and completely memorable experience that makes for arguably the greatest horror movie ever made.

23. Schindler’s List

It’s a hard task to deny that Steven Spielberg is an incredible director. There may be movies he’s made that you don’t enjoy, but the man has made many movies. Schindler’s List is “the beard’s” greatest feat. It’s a dark and poignant masterpiece that tells a story as inspiring as they come while enveloping a definitive story of the darkest point in history. It’s some how able to be realistic and operatic. It’s a flawless and prominent film that was crafted by a man who knows how to make good movies.

22. Amadeus

Amadeus is just one of those classic art house films. It has all the makings a masterpiece in it’s beautifully epic tale of rivalry, obsession and artistry. Structured to perfection, an old, bitter rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart recounts the “murder” of Mozart himself. It’s a vast excursion into music through mystery. It’s also about a devotion to one’s craft. Behind this dark drama of murder, there’s quite the witty side to Amadeus, but more importantly a thrilling side. You really become consumed by the magic of it all.

21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the most inspirational pieces of cinema ever crafted. The futile, yet necessary battle between the free spirited R.P. McMurphy and the tyrannical Nurse Ratched is a thrilling one. It is very much a story about freedom and a fighting the want to simply conform. Randle McMurphy is quite the fish out of water when it comes to the tight shift the Mildred Ratched runs. He sure as hell isn’t going to stand idly by and let the man get him down and change him or his new friends from the fun-loving people they are.

20. Skyfall

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Skyfall is tells the greatest story that will ever be told about one of the most iconic characters in all of fiction, James Bond. This is, in part, due to the fact that Skyfall touches on so much more than just a story about 007. Skyfall tells a beautiful constructed tale of duty and betrayal, past mistakes and future consequences, the old and the new, but in its simplest form Skyfall is a movie about a hero and a villain. Daniel Craig’s raw and perfect turn as a grizzled Bond proving his worth even after so many missions really meets his match against the slithery and savage, Silva (Javier Bardem in another flawless portrayal as a villain).

19. Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is one the most memorable epics ever filmed. It’s a blood-soaked masterpiece about love and revenge. Any chance he gets as he tells his most epic tale of all, Tarantino pays homage to the samurai, kung-fu and even spaghetti western movies that he loves and respects to no end. Kill Bill is exciting and poetic. It’s a simple enough tale of vengeance and it’s told to perfection. We are brought on a very hectic journey and we know where it will lead but it’s hard not to enjoy the ride until you get there and when you do get there, there aren’t that many movies that are as satisfying.

18. Gladiator

Ridley Scott is often associated with the science fiction genre. He has defined and redefined the genre with some of the masterpieces he’s made. Scott’s sword and sandal epic, Gladiator, is arguably his greatest feat. The general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator and the gladiator who defied an empire is quite the striking story. Maximus is the kind of hero you want to watch prevail while his nemesis, Commudus is the kind of villain you want dead. Gladiator is a through and through a story of not just revenge, but justice.

17. Boogie Nights

Through a timeless tale of rise and fall, Paul Thomas Anderson explores the porn industry (70s through 80s) and its own rise and fall. It was with Boogie Nights that Paul Thomas Anderson began his reign of masterpieces. Boogie Nights was the first of five flawless, and very different, films. Boogie Nights is filled to the brim with vivid characters and memorable moments. It’s a colorful, yet dark film that’s hard not to be consumed by. Paul Thomas Anderson is just a man who knows how to make extraordinary movies and Boogie Nights is a perfect example of his expertise.

16. Inception

Inception is a masterpiece through and through. With a fantastic cast on his side, the brilliant Christopher Nolan tells a beautiful story of grief and redemption all while crafting an exhilarating science fiction setting where true reality is always in question. The setting for Inception is that of dreams and this world that Nolan has confidently explored is one that’s hard not to visit and revisit over and over again. Inception is a beautiful drama filled with vibrant characters and perfectly executed action sequences. It’s a compelling film that both entertains and makes you think from beginning to end.

15. The Social Network

2010 was an incredible year in film and arguably the greatest movie to come out of that year was The Social Network. Using the story of Facebook, David Fincher delves into broad themes of morality and betrayal what is easily one of the greatest films ever made. The Social Network tells a compelling human story that’s unmissable. Fincher defines a generation of technology and punks. It’s a film that manages to establish itself as a classic before it even passes the test of time. There’s no question I’ll be watching this movie in years to come. The Social Network is masterpiece in every way.

14. The Godfather (Part I +II)

The character arcs of the father and son that make up for the masterpiece that is The Godfather (Part I + II) are two of the greatest in film. The Godfather just tells this perfect story about family, while The Godfather Part II is more about character and the tragedy of Michael Corleone is fully realized. It utilizes the gangster genre, yet it’s so much more. Francis Ford Coppola was just ahead of his time in terms of how good he could make a movie, he proves that with this dark and operatic drama. The story is a powerful one and worthy of every bit of praise.

13. The Departed

Martin Scorsese is simply one of the greatest filmmakers to have graced this planet. He’s made countless masterpieces and The Departed is his greatest feat. The Departed tells a flawless intertwining tale of cops and criminals. It’s completely gritty, it’s relentlessly enjoyable and poetic. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an extraordinary performance while Jack Nicholson chews through every scene he’s in. Martin Scorsese has told many stories of crime, but never did he tell one so masterfully. The Departed is an unforgettable masterpiece through and through.

12. Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic is the greatest film he’s ever made. Captain Benjamin Willard is a sent to kill Walter E. Kurtz, a rogue Colonel who has fancied himself a god among the aborigines in Cambodia. We’re brought down the river with Willard and we learn more and more about Kurtz along the way, the anticipation to his first appearance is palpable as we go deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece about life’s journey and madness.

11. There Will Be Blood

The dark, emotive and gorgeous There Will Be Blood just barely misses his top ten movies of all time. There Will Be Blood was created by a movie mastermind. Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t made that many movies, but every time he does he manages to make completely captivating masterpieces. He also manages to get the best performances out of his actors which is quite the accomplishment when your main character in this case is played by the great Daniel Day-Lewis. There Will Be Blood is a beautiful and archaic excursion into greed and the american nightmare as it studies the ruthless and despicable oilman, Daniel Plainview.

10. American Beauty

Kevin Spacey expertly portrays Lester Burnham, the father and center-piece of American Beauty. As he goes through a midlife crisis he slowly begins to realize how beautiful life is and how it deserves to be appreciated. Lester is just one in an assortment of characters that make up for a fantastic story of the lives of others. The film opens and you learn that Lester will die by the end, but it’s the journey that matters. The film got a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar back in 1999 and it lives on still as one of the greatest films in history. American Beauty asks you to look closer and what you find is something quite beautiful indeed.

9. Pulp Fiction

Told through vignettes, Pulp Fiction offers a mosaic of the lifestyle of criminals. Genius in its execution, Quentin Tarantino offers up the greatest gangster movie ever made. Whether you’re watch diner thieves, hitmen, a prized boxer or a crime boss’ coveted wife, it’s hard not to find endless enjoyment in the oddity of it all. Tarantino has crafted a puzzle piece of a movie filled with imagination and innovation. Many have attempted what he did, but nothing ever came close to Quentin’s vastly original and gorgeous masterpiece.

8. Fight Club

Fight Club defines a bored generation and the insanity that can result from that boredom. Our narrator needs something more out of life. He can’t just go through the motions anymore, he’s lifeless and he can’t take it anymore. Thus begins Fight Club and a chance meeting with the charismatic Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is chaos incarnate. What begins as brawling to release angst eventually leads to rising anarchy. There’s a Tyler Durden in all of us and to attempt to hide that fact is futile and only serves to drive yourself crazy. Fight Club is cerebral, pertinent and entirely fascinating.

7. Django Unchained

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Quentin Tarantino can do no wrong. With his seventh directorial outing he makes what he was always meant to make, a spaghetti western. Django Unchained also happens to be a rollicking and epic excursion through the south when slavery was still at large. The film follows a freed slave on a journey to rescue the woman he loves, now tell me that’s not a story everyone can get behind. Props also goes out to Leonardo DiCaprio for his first and riveting performance as a villain, a sadistic and slimy plantation owner. With Django and his new friend, Dr. King Schultz, Tarantino has crafted a pair of heroes of mythical status. We’re just left to enjoy the ride as in their wake the bodies pile up, villains who represent clear symbols for exactly what was horribly wrong with that point in American history.

6. The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate in fantasy. It has dragons, wizards, goblins, magic, a giant flaming eye on a tower and an evil ring that can only be destroyed in the dark fires of Mt. Doom where it was forged. The epic journey that unfolds and the vivid characters you meet along the way leave you awe-struck and breathless. There’s just so much to the film to appreciate; the friendships, the battles, the countless inspirational moments, the creatures, the monologues, etc. The Lord of the Rings is simply one of the greatest stories ever told and it’s told masterfully and with grace.

5. Inglourious Basterds

With Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino takes the darkest period in history and tells an epic fantasy filled with blood and bullets. Every moment is so important to the story as a whole, while each scene just commands your attention. We get to know three very different characters before their adventures culminate in a glorious final chapter that solidifies Inglourious Basterds as one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s a movie made by a man who knows what a movie can be and what a movie can be is whatever the director wants it to be. It’s a story that deserved to be told and it was told to perfection. Inglourious Basterds is just as much a piece of art as it is one of the greatest times you’ll ever have at the movies.

4. Barton Fink

Barton Fink is the unspoken Coen Brother masterpiece. Most think of Fargo, No Country for Old Men or The Big Lebowski, but Barton Fink deserves to be held right up there as one of their masterpieces. As Barton’s writers block consumes him in the Hotel Earle a friendship begins to take shape between Fink and his next door neighbor. Charlie Meadows offers a little distraction in the form of innocent conversation. This is that everyman that Barton tries to capture in his writing. Little does Barton know that there’s more going on than he initially thought. Barton Fink is a thought-provoking masterpiece.

3. No Country for Old Men

A man finds drug money, while another man pursues him. It’s a simple story of cat and mouse that used to touch on important ideas of violence and malevolence. Llewellyn Moss attempts to get away with the money, while the cunning and emotionless killer, Anton Chigurh, is hot on his trail. Wise, old Sheriff Ed Tom Bell feels helpless on the sidelines as he watches this onslaught of blood unfold. No Country for Old Men is the Coen Brothers’ magnum opus. It is directed flawlessly, every choice made with such purpose. Nothing is out of place; each shot, line, performance, scene, etc. All of them are simply perfect. No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

2. Drive

Drive is proof that the way you tell your story is just as important as the story itself. It’s just this perfect clash style and substance. It’s honest, it can be brutal and it’s consistently satisfying. Our nameless and quiet protagonist progresses along in stylishly sleek and cool tale. Drive is a spectacular film about what it means to be a hero and about what drives a man to do the things he does. Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks steal the show, but everyone is on their A-games and the includes off screen. Nicolas Winding Refn hasn’t done much, but he could’ve only made Drive and it would be hard not to consider him an extraordinary director. Drive is a masterpiece and one of the highest caliber.

1. The Dark Knight Legend

The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is the greatest movie ever made. It’s filled to the brim with characters of the elemental variety to tell a vibrant, exciting and deep tale about heroism, villainy, legends, good, evil, despair, but above all else, hope. If I had to describe this single story in one word, that’s what it would be; hope. At the end of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight there is still much work to be done, but there is hope for a better tomorrow. In The Dark Knight Rises, hope in the form of the greatest hero in existence, triumphs in the face of despair.

In Batman Begins, you get the perfect hero’s journey with a tale of how Batman became Batman. In The Dark Knight, you get the perfect story of good (Batman) and evil (The Joker (Heath Ledger gives the greatest performance in the history of film)). Then the trilogy is defined flawlessly in its last chapter as, like I said before, hope triumphs over despair. This icon is utilized to perfection to tell a real story with so much meaning and emotion. What Christopher Nolan and friends have crafted isn’t just the greatest movie in existence, but the greatest story ever told.

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

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+

Top Ten Movie Characters

It’s no wonder I’m making this list, how could I not? Movie characters are my bread and butter. I love movies and without the the heart and soul of a movie’s characters, a movie would be nothing. This is my list and homage made for the greatest characters in film. It was one of the hardest I’v ever felt the need to make. Awhile ago I made a Top 50 regarding this theme, but things have changed and I wanted to make a new and definitive “Top Ten Movie Characters” list. Before I get into it, here are the four lists I made prior that helped in the creation of this list…

And here we go…

10. Kikuchiyo (Seven Samurai)

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When I say Kikuchiyo I mean Kikuchiyo as he is my favorite of the seven samurai who, for nothing, band together to protect a helpless village of farmers from ruthless bandits. However, I think if any one of these seven brave and powerful warriors is mentioned you have to at least mention the rest and all their heroism. Each samurai is unique in their own way, but there’s a special oddity that is the seventh samurai. He’s a confident and savage warrior and like any other samurai he’s wandered and seen the world. Unlike many samurai he doesn’t wearily look at the world with tired eyes, he looks at the world and laughs because what else can you do?

9. Django (Django Unchained)

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In most westerns you’ll find mysterious or violent antiheroes, but in Quentin Tarantino spaghetti southern you’ll find one of the greatest heroes in film. Django is a freed slave who sets out with his new found friend, Dr. King Schultz, to rescue his love from an evil plantation owner. As his journey progresses, Django establishes himself as a mighty warrior, a mythical avenger against the savagery of slavery in this fairy tale of a western. Django is just the epitome of cool, a badass who you want to stand up and cheer for.

8. William Munny (Unforgiven)

William Munny is an old western legend. He’s a vicious and feared killer, but he “ain’t like that no more.” He’s a good man and a loyal husband and father. His days of blood and gun fights took place long ago, but a life so grisly is hard to escape. In a world ruled by lawlessness and violence how else is a once dead-eyed killer to react to the brutality of it all. There’s no room for good men in the desolate west.”We all have it com in’ kid.” Can a cold-hearted killer be a good man?

7. Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)

“I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.” There Will Be Blood examines the idea of the American nightmare and it does so through a character study of Daniel Plainview. Daniel Plainview is driven by greed, consumption and hatred. He’s a despicable basterd who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. What he wants more than anything is to be alone. It can never be denied that there are bad people in the world. There Will Be Blood tells a poetic and powerful story of one such man.

6. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Tyler Durden is a symbol for anarachy. He’s in a constant battle with conformity and all that is normal. It has been cited that Heath Ledger’s Joker is chaos, but The Joker is evil through and through. Tyler Durden isn’t good or evil, he is the personification of chaos. He was born out of a bored generation, but he won’t be white collar slave.  There’s a Tyler Durden in all of us who every once and a while has an understandable need to fight against the grain. Anyone who tries to ignore that fact or impulse could just as easily go insane.

5. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)

No Country for Old Men is poetic magnum opus of morality and violence created by some of the greatest filmmakers to have ever graced the screen with art, the Coen Brothers. The villain of this blood-soaked tale could be looked at as death incarnate. Anton Chigurh is a heartless killer. He would sooner murder a person than hug them. He’s calm, he’s collected, he’s efficient, he’s disciplined, he’s intuitive, he’s soulless and he can’t be stopped. This theme of unrelenting malevolence is at the heart the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece.

4. Col. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Col. Hans Landa, otherwise known as The Jew Hunter, is something far worse than a high ranking officer of the Third Reich. He’s crafty detective who is as wise as he is evil. He does the things he does for his own gain. He’s not a nazi officer because he believes Adolf Hitler’s poisonous lies. He’s efficient at hunting Jews because for the time being it’s in his best interest. Once the situation changes, the slimy basterd will do what he has to in order to insure his own survival even if that means the betrayal of his country. There’s a certain charm and eloquence to him, but at the same time he just oozes wickedness.

3. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)

Bane is the most formidable opponent imaginable. He is the personification of despair to Batman’s hope in The Dark Knight Rises. The animosity that grows between these men is just breathtaking. “Let’s not stand on ceremony here, Mr. Wayne.” Bane understands their relationship before even the detective, Batman, does. They belong in the battlefield, not sharing pleasantries from across the room. One will triumph over the other and in the end, nothing will matter more to Bane than accomplishing that goal.

In order to feed the people of Gotham hope to “poison their souls”, Bane rebels for the oppressed and against corruption in Gotham. He’s a revolutionary tyrant, he’s his own General and he’s his own greatest soldier. His true agenda is the torture and destruction of Batman and everything he loves. In the end, we find that part of the beauty to Bane, as one of the greatest villains and characters ever created, is in the way that everything this monster of man has done has been for love.

2. Batman (The Dark Knight Legend)

The icon that is Batman is the greatest hero ever created in story and the realistic adaption of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Legend (or Trilogy if that tastes better going down) makes for one of the greatest characters of all time. In what is the greatest story ever told we watch as three tales unfold charting the growth of the greatest hero to have ever existed. Batman Begins is the perfect hero’s journey as we see exactly how a man became the hero, Batman. In The Dark Knight Batman must become the pure good to The Joker’s pure evil In The Dark Knight Rises, we see the solidification of a legend as a weathered Bruce Wayne must dawn the cape and cowl once again to triumph over utter despair. Batman is the greatest hero ever crafted in a story.

1. The Joker (The Dark Knight)

Movies would be nothing without villains. It could be argued more so that movies would be nothing without conflict, but villains are just conflict personified. I placed four movie villains on this list and they all made it into the top 5. I couldn’t help myself. Villains make for some of the best characters and the best villain and character in film can be found in The Dark Knight. The villain in The Dark Knight and the antithesis to Batman is The Joker.

The Joker is colorful while Batman is black, The Joker wears make up while Batman wears a mask, The Joker is killer while Batman is a savior,  The Joker is a villain while Batman is a hero, but most importantly The Joker is symbol for evil while Batman is a symbol for good. You’ll not find a character as purely evil as The Joker. Whereas Batman is good for the sake of being good, The Joker is evil for the sake of being evil.

The Joker is completely lacking in motives, plans and empathy. He’s just one of those rare men who “want to watch the world burn.” He is a twisted and sadistic force for malevolence who would literally die laughing for all that is evil. Due to a flawless utilization of the character by director Christopher Nolan and the greatest performance of all time (portrayed to perfection by the late-great Heath Ledger), The Dark Knight’s Joker is a legendary character that won’t soon be forgot. The Joker isn’t just the greatest character in movies, The Joker is the greatest character stories have ever had to offer.