The Official Review Thread of 2014

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 3890
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:17 pm

I also found Begin Again charming, though mostly because it was such an antidote for most of what passes for "entertainment" in the summer. After being severely underwhelmed by Once, I went in a little wary, but the movie won me over. This is not to say I think it's anything really special, but I enjoyed being in the company of real people, in a storyline that had some heart. I also liked that the plot seemed to emphasize the pleasure of making music above the drive for fame -- you could easily imagine another movie taking Keira Knightley's frustration with being second fiddle to Adam Levine's big pop star in a direction where she tried to surpass his accomplishments. But it's mostly content to find joy in the act of making the album, and the conceit of recording each song in a different locale in New York City was a lot of fun. None of the songs jumped out at me as being clearly THE song that would make an Oscar run (the way "Falling Slowly" definitely did), but the soundtrack was enjoyable across the board, and I imagine in a movie full of originals that get pretty prominent screen time, at least one of the songs will likely make the Oscar list.

As for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, all I can say is...DUPED AGAIN! Critics cheered for another blockbuster, and once again, I was bored out of my mind. The visual effects are, unquestionably, impressive -- the level of emotion that the mo-cap reaches in this movie, and the variety in the designs of the various apes, was absolutely notable. But once again: no remotely interesting human characters, pedestrian dialogue, not much in the way of narrative surprise or pleasure, "themes" which are utterly superficial. And my god, there's not a laugh in it! I think that might be my biggest annoyance with big budget fare as of late -- everything gets treated like it's Hamlet, and sorry, but if there is no fun to be had in a movie about talking monkeys I'm not really sure what I'm doing in this theater. I will grant that some of the set pieces are impressively filmed -- I didn't feel like I was just watching clutter in the action sequences. But it's all in service of a storyline that's just so pointless, I remain completely perplexed by the hosannas showered on it.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:40 am

THEY CAME TOGETHER
Cast: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Christopher Meloni, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Mantzoukas, Max Greenfield, Cobie Smulders, Ed Helms, Noureen DeWulf, Michael Ian Black.
Dir: David Wain.

After watching this film, I wondered why this didn't get a wider release. Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler are very well-known names supported by a mostly well-known supporting cast. And it's a very funny movie. Then I realize something: It's quite unmarketable to the masses. It's basically an often hilarious spoof of romantic comedies where every trope and cliche is lampooned and parodied in a very vaguely self-aware way where you either get its wavelength at once and laugh your ass off or you get lost. This comes from the creators of Wet Hot American Summer which has a similar comedic sensibility. I found this film often hilarious although some parts are hit and miss but when it hits, it's full-on hit. That said, it may not be for everybody. I highly recommend it though.

Oscar Prospects: Original Screenplay should be considered but highly unlikely.

Grade: B+

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:18 pm

JERSEY BOYS
Cast: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Christopher Walken, Renee Marino, Katharine Narducci, Mike Doyle, Joey Russo.
Dir: Clint Eastwood.

This is the film adaptation of the hit Tony-winning Broadway musical that's basically the story of Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons. You know, for an adaptation of a Broadway MUSICAL, this film is low on the musical element, with only enough full-blown musical numbers to BARELY qualify as a "musical". Personally, i love musicals so I was disappointed. Without the big numbers, it's just a standard musical biopic. For what it is, it's....fine. But the director is Clint Eastwood and I love and respect his work in general. Though this is somewhat of an improvement over J. Edgar, it's still kind of subpar. It's a pity since there are elements here and there that could have been great and the performances are generally pretty darn good. If you're a fan of the Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, there's plenty to love. But overall, it's just okay for everyone else.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C+

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:59 am

BEGIN AGAIN
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, James Corden, Mos Def, Cee-Lo Green, Rob Morrow.
Dir: John Carney.

Coming from the writer-director of Once comes another musical dramedy about struggling musicians. It's not quite as good but it's still a very solid film. This time, a record producer gets fired from his company and falls in love with an female singer-songwriter. The film has a lot of charm, sweetness and heart. I wasn't a fan of rom-com/daddy-has-to-connect-with-his-daughter plot lines but the whole concept of making an album out on the streets is pretty great and will appeal to any aspiring musician or anyone who loves music. It helps immensely that the soundtrack is pretty fantastic especially the songs "Lost Stars" and "A Step You Can't Take Back."

Oscar Prospect: Original Song is a strong possibility ("Lost Stars" and "A Step You Can't Take Back"). MAYBE Sound Mixing.

Grade: B.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6022
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:45 pm

I'm not sure how much there is to say about Begin Again, beyond the fact I found it completely charming. It resembles Carney's Once, in dealing with a short term alliance between a man and woman to produce music, but where I found the earlier film astonishingly overrated, I experienced this one as a low-grade pleasure machine. Keira Knightley hasn't suddenly blossomed into a major actress, but her sweet likability and pretty face are used well here, and it's one of her most effective screen appearances. James Corden has a fairly small part but is consistently funny in surprising ways (he proves the old adage that a comedian isn't someone who says funny things, but one who says things funny). And the plot, while hardly original and in the end wish-fulfillingly happy, goes directions you don't always expect. Plus the film as a whole is awash in the idea of music as soothing to people's psyches (something it shares with Parker's The Commitments), and, though it probably depends on your tolerance for mainstream pop, I found the musical scenes pretty giddily happy, and sometimes more (as in Knightley's drunk-dial-set-to-music, and, especially, the scene where she knows, from the song Adam Levine is singing to her and how he's singing it, that he's betrayed her).

I doubt the film is much of an Oscar contender (Globes, more likely), except in the best song category, where I can't see it missing at least one nomination -- Lost Stars most likely, given its place of prominence in the story, but both Like a Fool and A Step You Can't Take Back are also possible.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:35 am

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Toby Kebbell, Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Nick Thurston, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer.
Dir: Matt Reeves.

A lot of people LOVED Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I liked it just find but I wasn't one of the ones singing its praises as if it's the Second Coming. I wasn't really looking forward to the sequel so I was, at best, cautiously optimistic about it despite the advanced raves. And it's a very, very good film. I would say even better than the first one. The ape effects were a lot better and I love the fact that they really dug deep and found more depth to the characters, particularly the ape characters. Andy Serkis is of course excellent creating a full character with his mo-cap performance. Also excellent are Nick Thurston and Toby Kebbell as Caesar's son and the main ape villain respectively. Again, it's better than the first one but not quite the Second Coming. Matt Reeves, though, is slowly becoming an excellent mainstream genre filmmaker.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects nomination should be easy. Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are possible but Michael Giacchino's score should also be noted.

Grade: B+

LIFE ITSELF
Cast: Roger Ebert.
Dir: Steve James.

As a film buff, film criitc and aspiring filmmaker/screenwriter, Roger Ebert certainly had an influence on me and has become part of my life. I read his reviews, I watched clips from his show on the internet, I follow him on Twitter. I didn't agree with him all the time but I was always interested in what he has to say. It's obvious that he loved movies at least as much as I do and he loved writing about them, at least even more than I do. So I had genuine affection for this man and I'm happy to report that the documentary that chronicles his career is a remarkable film onto itself. The film doesn't shy away from the ugliness and difficulty of Ebert's condition: His lack of a lower jaw, his hospital procedures, etc. The documentary also doesn't shy away from Ebert's dark past, his flaws and the criticisms against him. But still, one can't help but be moved by Roger Ebert's spirit: His love for his wife, his step-children/step-grandchildren, his friends, his colleagues, the filmmakers he has championed throughout the years and of course, his love for the movies. I was deeply moved by the fact that in the twilight of his years, unable to talk, his mind is still sharp, never loses his sense of humor and his passion for writing. Quite simply, it's a moving testament to a man who loved movies.

Oscar Prospects: Definitely a contender for the Documentary Feature Oscar. Tears will surely flow in that moment.

Grade: A.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:29 am

CHEF
Cast: Jon Favreau, Emjay Anthony, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris.
Dir: Jon Favreau.

I'm glad I had a big meal before I saw this movie. All the delicious shots of all that food must be torture to someone who's hungry. That's just one of the things I liked about this movie. Actually, there's a lot of things to like about it. It's Jon Favreau going back to his roots as a filmmaker, making a smaller film after doing a bunch of big movies. Obviously, it's personal, sweet and heartfelt. The film is definitely formulaic but the strong performances of the cast lift it up and make it seem fresh with a bit of bite. The ending though leaves a bit to be desired. Even though it's already a bit long for a comedy, the ending felt too abrupt/a bit of a cop out.

Oscar Prospects: None but Jon Favreau could sneak in the Globes Comedy/Musical Actor.

Grade: B.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:56 pm

THE RAID 2: BERANDAL
Cast: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Yayan Ruhian, Tio Pakusodewo, Oka Antara, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Very Tri Yulisman.
Dir: Gareth Evans.

I loved the previous Raid movie. It's a lean mean, almost non-stop action flick with just enough of a story to keep you invested in characters and give a damn what's going on. In this one, Rama infiltrates a criminal syndicate in order to flush out high-ranking dirty cops. This one has more of a plot than the previous one and I have to say, it almost gets in the way of it sometimes, making it a tad overlong. But oh boy, there's more than enough action to satisfy the previous film's fans. As usual, you will feel every kick, blow, cut, bone-breakage, etc. and of course, the effect is oddly exhilarating thanks to the great choreography, sound design, cinematography and editing working all in harmony. This is what an action movie is supposed to be!

Oscar Prospects: Doubtful but Oscar should really pay attention to the Sound Editing of these films. They wouldn't be effective if it weren't for fantastic sound editing.

Grade: B+

UNDER THE SKIN
Cast: Scarlett Johansson.
Dir: Jonathan Glazer.

From the first frame to the last, this film is destined to infuriate many people and grip and delight others. I'm glad to say that I belong to the second camp. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who, under the guise of a beautiful human lady, seduces men in order to harvest their skin. The film takes a unique approach to the material, mixing actual scenes of Scarlett Johansson the actress actually conversing with men around London, beautiful visuals that is absolutely jaw-dropping and a narrative that does the courtesy of letting the audience figure out what's going on by themselves. I've heard people compare this to Kubrick and they wouldn't be entirely wrong. If that doesn't convince you, then consider this: Scarlett gets naked quite a bit.

Oscar Prospects: None but Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Original Score would be deserving.

Grade: A-

BLUE RUIN
Cast: Macon Blair, Devon Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, Eve Plumb, David W. Thompson.
Dir: Jeremy Saulnier.

It doesn't have the most original plot ever: A homeless man finds out that the man who is in prison for killing his parents is being released and then proceeds to plot his revenge. This film went the violence begets violence route. However, it manages to have surprises up its sleeves. The film is surprisingly quiet. It also takes its time to build its suspense and further the narrative which makes its shocking burst of violence all that much startling and effective (and unpleasant to watch, in this case, a compliment). Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier is a talent to watch. Seek this film out. (P.S. the original Jan Brady shows up with a machine gun, if that doesn't convince you to see it...)

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: B+

THE IMMIGRANT
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, Yelena Solovey, Dagmara Dominczyk.
Dir: James Gray.

James Gray is probably one of the most underrated and under seen independent American directors out there. I happen to really love and admire all the films I've seen from him. The streak continues with this film. Marion Cotillard gives one of her career-best performances as a Polish immigrant caught in a love triangle between two cousins in New York city in the early 20th century. Joaquin Phoenix is also outstanding as one of the cousins who started out by pimping but falls in love with her. The plot may sound like pure melodrama but Gray's treatment of it is anything but. It is compelling, surprising and unexpectedly moving by the end. Add to that the outstanding cinematography and design and you have, I must say, one of the best films of the year so far.

Oscar Prospects: Deserves Picture, Director, Actor (Phoenix), Actress (Cotillard), Supporting Actor (Renner), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design and Costume Design.

Grade: A.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:02 am

VENUS IN FUR
Cast: Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric.
Dir: Roman Polanski.

This is a French version of David Ives' Broadway play about a director on the tail end of a day of auditioning actresses for his stage adaptation of the 19th century erotic novel Venus in Furs when a very late auditioner barges in and somehow talks the director into a read-through of the play and soon the line between the play and their reality become more and more blurry. Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric are both excellent in their roles because well, they have to be since they're the only two characters on-screen. Roman Polanski does his very best in cinematically translating what is, based on what I saw, a rather stage-y two-person play. It still is rather stage-y. I think material is better seen as a play, seems more enjoyable in that format. It's far from Polanski's best but still a highly entertaining watchable film.

Oscar Prospects: If eligible, I think Seigner and Amalric wouldn't be objectionable nominees. Alexandre Desplat's score is exemplary as usual.

Grade: B.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:17 am

22 JUMP STREET
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Peter Stormare, Amber Stevens, Wyatt Russell, Jillian Bell, Nick Offerman, Rob Riggle, Dave Franco.
Dirs: Phil Lord & Chris Miller.

The first movie was surprisingly good. The directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller are starting to build an excellent rep as one of the best mainstream comedy directors out there. This one is in some ways even better than the first one because it builds on the absurdity of the first one, adding a layer of meta-humor but fortunately never goes overboard. It still managed to create a cohesive story where you give a damn what happens. Ice Cube almost steals the movie in this one. There are lots of really good laughs in this film but the end credits were easily the funniest.

Oscar Prospects: Doubtful.

Grade: B+

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:07 am

NOAH
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Leo McHugh Carroll, Marton Csokas.
Dir: Darren Aronofsky.

The release date of this film got delayed by a couple of months due to some legal between the local distributors. Now it's finally released, what do I think? Well, it's an interesting film. It's clearly a Darren Aronofsky film through and through. It's still in a way a character study of a biblical character like what he has done in a lot of his work. There are lots of things to admire and love about it. Clint Mansell's score and Matthew Libatique's cinematography are exemplary, as usual. The cast acquits themselves well. I can also see what Aronofsky is trying to do. Expound and retell a familiar Bible story in a different way incorporating messages on environmentalism and questions on the nature of God (merciful vs. angry) all the while trying to appeal to a broad audience, consciously not trying to be a dry Biblical epic. The result is what I can best describe as an endlessly fascinating mess that I would recommend seeing since there are flashes of greatness in it. This is the type of film that will have both passionate defenders and naysayers and will be argued on in film circles. I admire Darren Aronofsky as a director but this is not my favorite Aronofsky film. Not for Bible purists. Personally, for me, its deviation from the original Bible story is not at all a problem.

Oscar Prospects: Deserves mentions for Original Score and Cinematography. Could be a contender for Visual Effects, Makeup, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

Grade: B-

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:51 am

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington, Djimon Hounsou (voices).
Dir: Dean DeBlois.

Well, surprise, surprise. I have to say that this is probably my favorite Dreamworks Animation feature film. Ever since they stopped the gimmick of crafting roles for celebrity voices and peppering it with wink-wink hip humor, their work has vastly improved. This one is their best one yet. It continues the story from the previous film but adding even more surprising depth, pathos and heart while still maintaining a great sense of fun, humor and spectacle. It has some great imaginative animation and a great voice cast too. They really stepped up BIG time for this.

Oscar Prospects: Best Animated Feature for sure. Possible nods for Original Score, Original Song, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

Grade: A-

P.S. I can't help but wonder if my tastes are being questioned in this thread.

ITALIANO
Emeritus
Posts: 3803
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:58 pm
Location: MILAN
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:44 pm

The Original BJ wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:The Great Beauty or Grand Budapest Hotel (not to mention Hiroshima Mon Amour or Sunset Boulevard).


Thankfully, I've seen all those. :D



I'm sure YOU have :)

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 3890
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:43 pm

ITALIANO wrote:The Great Beauty or Grand Budapest Hotel (not to mention Hiroshima Mon Amour or Sunset Boulevard).


Thankfully, I've seen all those. :D

ksrymy
Adjunct
Posts: 1138
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:10 am
Location: Wichita, KS
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2014

Postby ksrymy » Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:50 am

ITALIANO wrote:(not to mention Hiroshima Mon Amour or Sunset Boulevard).

:mrgreen:
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald


Return to “2014”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest