The Descendants Review

There are plenty of examples of films through out history that, for me at least, can be looked at as beautiful pieces of art work and sometimes these pieces of art work can be appreciated, but not always enjoyed. There are many times when I have a complete respect for a film and what a filmmaker has accomplished, but that’s not to say the film was completely entertaining. That was just the case with a film that came out just months ago, The Tree of Life. That’s a fantastic film, but it’s not one that kept me thoroughly gripped through out. This is partly the case with The Descendants, which was a much more entertaining film and while it was pretty well made, it simply didn’t grab me as I’m sure it will for most.

This in no way, shape or form is to imply that I didn’t like The Descendants, because I did. I’m merely stating that the film didn’t offer me quite the escape that other films have this year. That being said, The Descendants was a pretty great film that I will certainly watch again. It was a very intelligent and mature film that was completely aware of where it was going and the more mellow tone of the story truly worked because every character had heart and soul.

The Descendants follows working stiff Matthew King as his his wife has just fallen into a coma and now has to take care of his daughters. The film takes a dramatic turn when Matt finds that his wife is going to die and that she had been cheating on him. The events happen to also coincide with a choice Matt is figuring out on whether or not to sell a piece of land that has been passed down through his family for generations. There are times where that story is heavy hitting and the moments work well, but for the most part the story and light the relationship between Matt and his daughters is very entertaining.

The acting in this film is very captivating. Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley were fantastic as Matt’s completely different daughters. In terms of Clooney, this was one of his best performances. I haven’t seen him perform this well in a long time and that’s not to say he hasn’t been performing to his full ability as of late, that’s to say he was pretty brilliant in The Descendants. His character was defined by good writing and was made a reality by a great performance.

Other than a few lackluster moments, including an out of place wipe transition nearing the climax, the film was directed very well. There wasn’t anything that was flashy or over dramatized. What you saw was what you got and what we got was a great movie. The pacing for this film kept you intrigued and- aside from an ending that dragged a little bit- it was hard not to be entertained through out. Overall, it was a great film and one I hope to watch again.

Grade: B+

Advertisements

Top Ten Tarantino Characters

The original minds of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Their love for violence, their fantastic and memorable writing and their ability to never let you down, just to name a few. But I think Quentin Tarantino tops the Coen Brothers in his creation of some of the most memorable characters in film. Tarantino puts such a graceful brush stroke on every single one of his characters, making each one (no matter how manner) just plain awesome.

As always it was a difficult list to make because I love practically every character Quentin creates. I unfortunately was not able to make room for many characters I would love to find on a top ten such as this. Mr. Pink and Mr. Blonde are my favorite criminals from Reservoir Dogs who weren’t able to make to list. I wish I had room for Shosanna Dreyfuss of Inglourious Basterds, but she just missed the cut. Anyways, here they are, my favorite Quentin Tarantino characters…

10. Calvin J. Candie (Django Unchained)

leonardo-dicaprio-as-calvin-candie-in-django

If Candyland is the mountain surrounded by hellfire that Dr. King Schultz describes in his german legend, than Calvin J. Candie is the fire breathing dragon. Leonardo DiCaprio never fails to show off his chops as an actor and he really shines here as a sadistic, savage and charismatic plantation owner. He’s the kind of villain you just despise from the moment you meet him and DiCaprio sells out. It’s a brilliant character that deserved a brilliant performance.

9. The Bride (Kill Bill)

The Bride is my favorite female hero in all of film. Period. Her determination and bloodlust drive the epic force that is Kill Bill. I love every moment of the four hour movie and it tells the tale of her escapades. Of course I love her. She puches her way out of a coffin buried 6 feet under, kills “88” people (not really, but still a large number) with out breaking a sweat and gouges out a rivals eye with her bare hand. Black Mamba is a samurai and the deadliest woman in the world.

8. Lt. Archie Hicox (Inglourious Basterds)

2che90-560x420

He only makes it in three scenes of Tarantino’s WWII masterpiece, but one of them just so happens to be almost a half hour long and quite possibly the best scene in the movie. Hicox is an english officer bent on helping the Allies in any way he can. What makes him a shoe-in for this list for me is a scene when he’s told of his imminent death. With pride he sucks down his cigarette, picks up his glass of scotch and says one of my favorite lines in film, “There’s a special rung in hell for people who waste a good scotch and since I may be wrapping on the door momentarily…(finishes the glass)… I must say, damn good stuff.”

7. Stuntman Mike (Death Proof)

I absolutely love Death Proof. Is it that good of a movie? Most would say no probably, but I have a blast with every single time I’ve watched it. I think for the most part I love the movie because its driven by a character I love. The psychopathic killer, Stuntman Mike. A sweet talkin’ charmer who happens to kill girls with his car. He has played many bad asses in his illustrious career, but I don’t enjoy watching Kurt Russell nearly as much as I enjoy him as this bad ass.

6. Bill (Kill Bill)

Bill is simply what he calls himself, “a murdering basterd”. Look deeper though and he’s still a murdering basterd, but also a wise samurai with a broken heart. Every single line Bill has is uttered with sauch subtle grace and beauty by David Carradine. Every single moment is made quite epic by his presence. We don’t even see his face for the first half of the movie. Instead, we get a few shots of his hands, his sword and his cowboy boats slowly walking over to the half dead corpse of the woman he loves and is about to shoot in the head. Bill has a way a about him that makes him hated and loved by all he’s touched by. I for one just love the guy.

5. Dr. King Schultz (Django Unchained)

Screen-shot-2012-06-09-at-2.02.31-PM

I like to imagine that Tarantino sees a bit of himself in Dr. King Schultz, a man who could never truly understand Django’s pain and struggle, but who would never the less help Django in any way he could. Dr. King Schultz walks into Django’s life very suddenly and they instantly hit it off. He says it himself, Schultz “despises” slavery and he sees to the freedom of a man he was meant to meet. Together they form a bond willing to stand up against the atrocious tyranny of slavery. He’s a charming man, a wise mentor and a friend.

4. Lt. Aldo Raine (Inglourious Basterds)

Known to his enemies as Aldo the Apache is a nazi-scalping aficionado and the leader of the band of renegade jews sent to do as much damage as they possibly can against the Third Reich. He bares a lynching scar across his neck and we don’t know why, but I love it. Aldo goes through no transition or arch as a character and that’s the reason I love him. We know what to expect out of him. We know what he loves and we know he’d like to be doing it till the day he dies and that is “killin’ nazis.”

3. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)

Jules Winnfield is by far one of the greatest movie characters of all time. A notorious hitman touched by the grace of god and changed spiritually forever. This is by far Samuel L. Jackson’s best and most iconic performance. “Hmm, that is a tasty burger.” I love every single violent and philosophical induced moment with this “Bad Motherfucker”. You can’t talk about Quentin Tarantino movies and not mention the awesomenous that is Jules Winnfield. From the bible verse he recites before killing somone to his rightfully stitched wallet, I can never get enough of him.

2. Django (Django Unchained)

django-unchained-final-trailer

In Django Unchined, you’ll find the greatest hero Quentin Tarantino has ever created. I never want anything bad to happen to Django and his love, Broomhilda. From the moment he is released from his chains I am rooting for him. He’s the definition of a badass and he’s a righteous man, a hero looking for retribution. Django is reminiscent of a mighty knight riding in to save the woman he loves. You love him and his woman and his journey, you hate the villains that stand in his way and to watch his wrath unleash when it goes down is nothing short of breathtaking.

1. Col. Hans Landa (Inlgourious Basterds)

“The Jew Hunter” is one of the greatest characters in film and by far the greatest character Quentin Tarantino has ever created and probably ever will create. It took him 15 years to top the character Jules Winnfield. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be able to top Hans Landa. A nazi is probably the most hated figure in history, but finally someone had the guts to give one some depth, and Col. Hans Landa is the result (played to nothing short of perfection by Christoph Waltz).

Col. Landa is actually a man who doesn’t buy into the nazi propaganda and instead is just doing his duty and he’s damn good at it because the S.S. officer is also a detective. It really doesn’t get much more interesting than an intelligent nazi colonel who intertwines through the threads of the events and people around him, eventually betraying his country in order to secure his survival and happy future. Col. Hans Landa is a despicable mastermind with no cap on his malevolence.

Up in the Air Review

Its actually rather difficult to put down into words exactly how much I enjoyed Up in the Air. I think the biggest reason I fell in love with this movie was because I went in there not expecting much. It just didn’t look very interesting. And George Clooney is on and off for me. I love him in movies like O Brother, Where Art Thou?, From Dusk Till Dawn and Michael Clayton, but than I’m not a big fan of him in movies like the Ocean’s trilogy and the Perfect Storm.

Then when it came to the director Jason Reitman, I loved Thank You for Smoking and I really liked JUno, but didn’t find it to be the masterpiece most did. So I went in not expecting much. I wasn’t thinking it would be a bad movie, I was thinking it would be an ok a movie. I was wrong, my expectations were exceeded with flying colors, I loved Up in the Air.

Up in the Air tells the story of a loner who flies daily to different companies in order to fire people whose bosses are too scared to. Ryan Bingham prides himself on independence and the many miles he’s acquired in the air. Than an unexpected thing happens, scratch that. Many expect things happen, but you’ll just have to find out what they are for yourself.

This is one of the movies I did enjoy Clooney in. He really hasn’t been disappointing as of late. He gave a great performance here, not oscar worthy, but great. Farmiga and Kendrick as the supporting women also were scene stealers. Everyone was on top of their game, especially behind the camera. I shall never doubt Reitman’s work again, I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve next.

Up in the Air tells a story that feels real and heartfelt. A movie that deserves to be experienced multiple times. Like life, Up in the Air doesn’t follow a certain formula, you don’t know what to expect. The events that follow are simply… up in the air.

Grade: A+

The Men Who Stare At Goats Review

The Men Who Stare At Goats was exactly what I expected it to be. It wasn’t an amazing movie by any means, but it was however a very fun film, with great acting and worth a lot more watches. It’s really just a fun bit of entertainment that will most likely be overlooked, but shouldn’t be. It told a very entertaining tale, told it well, and along the way made me laugh hysterically.

Its a story of the government attempting to train psychic soldiers or “jedi” to fight with in war instead of weapons. The story is supposedly based on true events, but instead of saying so, it says “More of this is true than you’d believe”, or something along those lines. Clooney plays and ex-jedi whose on a mission to rescue his leader (Jeff Bridges), while Ewan McGregor plays a reporter writing his story and joining in his adventures. Kevin Spacey is expertly thrown in as a rival psychic.

Everyone was fantastic and its really what you’d expect. If I had to pick a favorite I would say I absolutely loved Jeff Bridges in this flick. He was hilarious every time he came on screen. All and all, the movie was a nice bit of entertainment, certainly worth a watch, if not a few.

Grade: B

Burn After Reading Review

This is a hilariously smart movie about intertwining stupidity. Not many comedies get better than this. What you have here is a comedic complex crime story with many different characters (played expertly by every actor) that leads to hilarious conclusions. What I like about Burn After Reading is there really isn’t a main character, there’s just a lot of different, yet equally fun characters reacting to the events and characters around them. The acting was top-notch and fun, especially by John Malkovich and Brad Pitt, I smiled with each of their lines. Burn After Reading wasn’t epic, and it didn’t have much point or reason, but it was incredibly entertaining and worth every penny. Burn After Reading wasn’t No Country for Old Men and it didn’t amount to much in the end, but that’s one of the key points I received from this film. A movie doesn’t have to amount to much to have a good story, and Burn After Reading does hilariously tell a great story.

Grade: B+

#37 Seth Gecko (From Dusk Till Dawn)

He talks fast, acts fast, and strikes fear into enemies hearts. 

  • Actor: George Clooney
  • Quote: “Are you a faithless preacher, or are you a mean mother fuckin servent of god?”
  • Action: Rams a wooden stack into his brothers chest because he turns into a vampire.
  • Clip(s):