Movies

American Hustle Review

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American Hustle has already received a great deal of attention from the big awards and I predict that it will pick up a fair amount of awards. The film rightly receives attention for being a great film. This does have the elements of an art house film but at times it is highly entertaining at parts. The film follows Irving Rosefeld (Christian Bale) a con artist and his partner in crime Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who are swooped up by the FBI agent Richie DiMasso (Bradley Cooper) and asked to aid the government in bringing down corrupt politicians. The story starts with an attempt to catch Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) to capture him taking a bribe. When the opportunity presents itself DiMasso wants to go after higher up officials.

This film does have a great cast and they all work really well together. Bale and Adams had previously worked together on The Fighter and Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence previously worked together on Silver Linings Playbook which were both directed by David O.Russell. It seems that O. Russell has a good relationship with his actors that he can collaborate with them on many different movies. O.Russell is known for having a temper on set but it seems that in his recent films the actors and crew he works with work with him well and he has no need to lose his temper. From a directing point of view O.Russell seems very skilled in his craft and his other films have really brought him into a new light as a filmmaker. I do very much look forward to what he will do next.

The film also features a cameo from Robert De Niro who plays a mob boss named Victor Tellegio and Louis C.K gives a decent performance as Richie DiMasso’s supervisor. Despite these two having small roles in the film their performances are really great and they did really stick out to me. I do think that Bale, Cooper, Adams and Renner really deliver in this film and I am glad to see that they all except Renner have received nominations. Lawrence have received nominations for awards for her role as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, however I did not think her role in this was anything special. I know she is loved by many people and I do like her other work as well but I felt her performance really lacked when compared to the other actors in the film.

One criticism I do have with the film is that it is not consistently entertaining. For me entertainment is really important when watching a film. Art can be fun despite what some people say. The film is interesting when it is not entertaining though but I would rather it consistently delivered. The first part of the film is a lot less entertaining than the second half of the film but that does not mean any of the film is bad. With the mix of great performances, great story and great film making this film is well crafted and is a must see film.

Overall this film is a solid piece of cinema and may even be considered a modern classic. The film has so many good moments and with a great cast and crew there is no surprise that this film was successful. I am sure this will pick up a few awards when the time comes and with such an excellent cast this will continue to have financial success. Although some moments are duller and less interesting than others the film is defiantly worth checking out. As always I fear that the film will be lost on the larger audience but with a cast of A list actors I am sure people will check this out and will struggle to hate this.

8/10

What did you think of the film? Please comment below and thanks for reading.

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Les Miserables Review

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Director Tom Hooper gave us The King’s Speech as well as the miniseries John Adams which were both fantastic. You would think that as he has directed on a large scale with historical context you would think he would be able to make a great film with Les Miserables. This is a musical film and I knew that going in but the cast and the director gave me hope watching it. I don’t think all musicals are bad but it is something that I don’t really watch because it just doesn’t appeal to me.

This is the first time a musical did live recordings of the performances. Usually they would record the soundtrack in the studio and then lip syncing on the set of the film. I did think live seeing added something but that hardly saves the film. I am glad that Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter feature and provide the much needed comic relief to the film. I think it would be too dull without something to break up the drama. I don’t think any of the cast are bad singers at all but I feel that they deliver forgettable performances. I expected a lot more from a cast of such talented actors.

I don’t like long films and if they are long they need to be interesting. I am sure this film is interesting to some but it wasn’t for me. After and hour I was checking the time. I remember joking to my friend about 20 minutes before the film was due to end that there was another hour and a half to go. He said’ You’re f**king kidding me?’ I think that proves how boring the film is. My friend had lost his sense of time and was annoyed when he thought it was no where near the end.

The film did manage to pick up some Oscar nominations and Anne Hathaway took away best supporting actress Oscar. This really was not deserved at all in my opinion. A lot of people liked her performance and think it was deserved but I felt it was too over the top at times and too subtle at other points. Also the fact that she is hardly in it makes me wonder why she got the Oscar. Even a supporting actress Oscar is too much praise in my opinion.

Hugh Jackman picked up an Oscar nomination for his role of Jean Valjean although he missed out on the win. I felt that this films only good bits had Jackman in them. It is good to see that Jackman can play an intense character other than Wolverine and he demonstrates his performance skills as well and a great deal of emotion. I don’t really know how this film could be improved at all. I know it is easy to criticize the film without giving solutions but I really have no interest in giving solutions for this film. I do appreciate that any motion picture has so much effort put into it and that is something to be proud of. But the film failed to keep me entertained but I don’t want to take away its success. Me not liking it is just my opinion.

Overall, this film does have some impressive sets and a decent cast but that cannot save the film from how dull the plot is. I don’t think fans of musicals would like this film that much either as it is so different. The film may have deeper meaning but it was lost on me because I felt the film was so boring and it was a painful experience to watch. Regretfully I have to give this a low rating. I think I am being generous but I did like Jackman’s performance but a lot more than one decent performance to save this miserable film.

4/10

What did you think of the film? Please comment below and thanks for reading.

Django Unchained Review

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Tarantino has a cult following but it almost seems that he has another cult that hates him. Personally I like his films. Some are a lot better than others but I do consider him one of my favorite directors. I think he has a very specific style and trademark. When you watch a film of his you know that he wrote and directed it. Even just watching a few minutes of a random scene you would probably notice that it fits his style. Tarantino has almost made a genre of his own.

The film stars Jamie Foxx as Django and Christoph Waltz and Dr King Schultz. Christoph Waltz is the supporting character but almost steals the show and this role earned him a second Oscar nomination and win. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the villainous Calvin Candy who is considered the main antagonist however does not feature heavily in the film and doesn’t show up until over half way through. Kerry Washington plays Django’s wife Broomhilda who is a slave at Candyland. Samuel L Jackson plays Stephen head slave at Candyland and who is just as evil as Calvin Candy. I do think Christoph Waltz really delivers in this but all the other cast help to make this film something the audience will remember.

The film follows Django a slave who is found by Dr King Schultz. Schultz is a bounty hunter who is looking for a gang called the Brittle brothers and needs Django to identify them. Once they have caught the gang Schultz promises to free Django and help track down his wife. They are lead to a plantation called Candy Land ruled by the cruel owner Calvin Candy and his assistant Stephen. The film does go off on several sub-plots but they do work really well as they help build up the characters.

The film is almost three hours long which I think is a very long time to sit in the cinema for. I don’t tend to like films that go on too long however I felt this film flowed very well. Long films can go off topic and get boring and that is what makes them bad. However Django Unchained keeps the audience interested throughout the entire film. I could have seen some of it being cut out for convenience but at no point when watching this was I bored.

The film is not really a western but something completely different. It does contain lots of elements and iconography of the western genre. Tarantino has described this film as a ‘Southern’ due to its main setting being Mississippi and taking place on plantations. The first half of the film is defiantly iconic to the western genre but then the film deviates. This is good though as I like things to change and I like to see different things. The film contains elements of other genres and it works really well mixing up genres.

The film has been criticized for the levels of racism.  I do think it is justified though. I do think that if you are doing a film about slavery then you need to have racism in it. I think censoring racism would ruin the film. I do think films should inform and highlight issues. Slavery has not really been shown in that many films before and the subject is taboo.

The film is very violent and this may deter people from seeing it but I think that if you are going to see a Tarantino picture you expect violence. I do not think that is is unjustified though. This time in America it was a violent time. Slavery was so brutal and I don’t think this film would have been as good if it censored the levels of violence. I also think that the characters actions of violence of justified. I don’t want to spoil the film but something Christoph Waltz’s character does towards the end of the film I first felt was out of character but after thinking about it, I think that his action was completely justified and not out of place at all.

Overall this is a great piece of cinema, I think this film is perfectly appeals to both fans of the art house film and those who like blockbusters. There is plenty in the film that will appeal to a lot of people and despite the subject matter being a touchy subject I don’t think that should deter anyone from seeing it.

8.5/10

What did you think of the film? Please comment below and thanks for reading.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Trailer Review

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I have not seen much of Wes Anderson’s work. In fact I have only seen one film of his. I have seen Moonrise Kingdom which I did enjoy but I understand it is not a typical Hollywood film. I am not sure I would call it non Hollywood American Cinema. I really don’t know what you would call it really. Moonrise Kingdom was very stylish and to my knowledge Anderson designs almost every aspect of the film. He picks out the colour schemes of clothing to the pattern of the wallpaper in every scene. I feel that this is an interesting thing for a director to do but seems to be slightly redundant. Anderson has to do this for himself and no one else. I am sure the audience will appreciate small snippets of individualism in every shot, however audiences are passive and will miss a great deal of it and generally not appreciate it.

The film has a fantastic cast and I am surprised that so many famous and well respected actors are in this film. Many have worked with Anderson before but I am surprised so many of these actors like his work enough to star in his films. The film stars Ralph Fiennes, Saorise Ronan, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody. Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Jeff Goldblum, Ed Norton, Jason Swchwartman, Owen Wilson. Anderson has always been able to get big names to star in his films but I worry that Anderson may just do this in an attempt to attract audiences. If a film has a large cast of well known actors it will attract audiences but that may be an attempt to cover up poor story. I don’t think this will be the case but I understand that Anderson’s films are for a niche market so having well known actors is simply an attempt to attract larger audiences and nothing more.

Overall the film does seem to have a lot of humor in the trailer and I feel that it will be something for film fans to check out. I do not think this film will get a massive release because it is a niche film and will likely only get attention from awards season. As always I need to see the film before I make a decision about the film. I will not judge a film by its trailer, well not all the time. The trailer does make me want to see this and I will go to the cinema if it is released but if not I would still like to check it out at some point.

What do you think of the trailer? Please comment and thanks for reading.

Netflix Aims To Evolve

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A few months ago I talked about how Netflix is evolving to be the future of television. It now has a few shows of original content for its viewers as well as regular updates of new films and television shows. Over the summer Netflix took things a bit further. It is continuation to evolve and be the top of its game. Basically Netflix has taken a leaf out of HBO’s book and wants to produce original content but also show other content that viewers can enjoy.

I live in Britain and usually if I want to watch a television show I need to wait usually a week until it comes on British television or I can find it on the internet. I really like the show Breaking Bad and Netflix allowed streaming the next morning of when the show aired. I could watch it within hours of it being shown live in the USA. Also Breaking Bad is not shown on Television in Britain at the moment. Even though Season 5 Part 2 is over you can still not watch it anywhere but Netflix or find it ‘illegally’ on the internet. Also I have watched stuff on the internet before but it was of poor quality and it contained adverts. The great think about Netflix that it is perfect quality and all the adverts are taken out. That is amazing. Some people would want to watch the show at the same time although it is early morning on a Monday when Breaking Bad was shown and I was happy to wait just a few hours before watching it. Breaking Bad episodes became available the next day at 9am.

Being a member of Netflix I was asked to fill out a questionnaire about Breaking Bad on Netflix. The message I got implied that more shows from the USA will be exclusive to Netflix and be available the next day on Netflix. That would be fantastic. There are lots of shows that I would love to watch. For example another AMC show The Walking Dead is due to air on US television this week and the only way I can watch it will be on the internet or I think I have to wait a week before it is shown on television. I want to watch it as soon as possible so I would love for Netflix to do the same with The Walking Dead to what they have done with Breaking Bad.

Netflix has shown initiative and with its original content as well as its wide selection of films I am sure that the company will do well. If Netflix is able to secure more US shows to be shown the next day after airing I think this will secure more customers for Netflix. Also if they can make more money they will be able to produce more original content like House Of Cards. I may be wrong but I can only see this proposal as helping Netflix make more money and make more original content.

Do The Academy Awards Matter?

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Everyone likes to get praised for their work. Awards season for the film industry is important to so many people and winning an award really matters to them. The Academy Awards is considered the most prestigious film award a person can win. Actors dream of winning Oscars in particular and many not just actors but anyone who works in the film industry would be so honored to have their work recognized. However with mixed opinions on films and performances do awards really matter? There have been many roles by actors which I feel were undeserving of Academy Awards and many actors who have missed out on an Oscar nomination despite receiving praise by other awards for their performances. Some have actually made me really angry and even though some may be my personal opinion towards a performance or film I can still show my disapproval and approval of what happens at the Academy Awards.

Meryl Streep is a fantastic actress and has received so much recognition from the Academy Awards but one thing has really annoyed me recently. She won best leading actress for The Iron Lady. Now I can only say this is my opinion but I know many agree with me. In The Iron Lady it is not a powerful biopic about Margret Thatcher it is a pathetic attempt at a dementia awareness the film. He performance was so weak and she only got nominated because she gets nominated. There were better roles that year for the actresses who would have loved to have won an Oscar instead. Also many of Streep’s nominations mean that other new actresses are not getting recognized just because of the Academy’s stupid obsession with Streep. Some nominations are good but some are just put there for the sake of it and it is unfair.  I really don’t get how she won and it really makes me angry. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes the academy has ever made.

Tommy Lee Jones is a fantastic actor and gives great performances in all his films. However he won an Oscar for The Fugitive. Now if you have seen the film it is hardly a pioneering film in the world of cinema and Jones basically plays himself. Its not a terrible performance but its not an Oscar worthy performance. Compared to the other nominees in that category I am surprised that Jones came out on top. I personally would have awarded the Oscar to either Pete Postlethwaite for In The Name Of The Father or Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List. The other two nominees were John Malkovich for In The Line Of Fire and Leonardo DiCaprio for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. These were all worthy performances except for Jones who has done many better roles than The Fugitive that were worthy of Oscar nominations and even wins. What were the academy thinking when they gave the Oscar to him? I really don’t know.

There are many snubs made by the academy. Some have been nominated and still have not won whereas some great performances have been ignored  completely. As I said there were many better performances when Tommy Lee Jones won. Also more recently I felt Anne Hathaway was an unworthy winner of the academy award for Les Miserables.  I felt her role really lacked something but that is my opinion. Someone else should have won but I am torn at who should have though.

Gary Oldman finally received a Oscar nomination  for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy two years ago. However he did not win despite giving a fantastic performance. Jean Dujardin won for The Artist which I think is another overrated film. That is only my opinion. Oldman has been snubbed by the Oscars on many occasions but I would not have wanted him to win for just because the academy was trying to make up for snubbing him on in my opinion on 5 separate occasions. I feel that the academy did this with Russell Crowe. He won for Gladiator which was a great performance but I think he only won to make up for him not winning the previous year for the film The Insider.

Michael Fassbender received recognition for his role in Shame at the Golden Globes but was snubbed at the Oscars. He gave a really intense and powerful performance but the academy deemed the topic too sensitive and ignored his fantastic performance. Will Ferell a well known comedy actor gave a brilliant performance in Stranger Than Fiction which I felt was Oscar worthy as well as actor Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. I thought that range would be recognize range in performances.  I worry this will be done again for this years academy awards with Steve Carell. He is playing a serious role in the film Foxcatcher but because of his body of work the academy may snub him. I think the Academy needs to look at range of actors performances and not just the performances they are being marked on.

Snubs are not just for actors but it has been done for directors as well. Martin Scorsese winning for The Departed seemed to make up for snubs for his films such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Casino. Although I liked The Departed I felt some of his other films are more deserving of recognition. The Departed is actually a remake which most people don’t know.

It has also been done for best film at the Oscars. The Hurt Locker won Best Picture a few years ago and I don’t think it was the best film of that time. I felt District 9 was more deserving of recognition. Also it is controversial that Forrest Gump won Best Picture over both Pulp Fiction ans The Shawshank Redemption. There two films are considered some of the best pieces in cinema history and The Shawshank Redemption is number one on Internet Movie Data Base’s top 250 list. I personally did not like Forrest Gump and I think most people would say that both The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction are much better films despite the Academy disagreeing.

Overall I do like to keep up with the Academy Awards and other awards but I do think they have made the wrong decisions on many occasions to the point that if you work in the industry that winning an award is a bonus and may help your career but sometimes the voters don’t have a clue and it is down to personal preference and if something is good but not recognized critically it does not mean it is any lesser than a film that has received recognition.

What do you think about the Academy Awards? Do you think they are unfair and they make the wrong decisions often? Please comment below and thanks for reading.

My Top 5 Film Directors

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There have been many great films over the years and I have had joyous and wonderful moments through the art of cinema. This is due to a lot of factors. But I like to give credit to the person with the vision. The Director. There are many directors who I admire and so many I could put on this list but I had to keep it to five. Here are my top 5 directors.

5. Clint Eastwood

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Clint Eastwood  started off acting and got involved in directing later on. Now many people will know him mainly for his roles in westerns but Eastwood has shown his directing range and made interesting and entertaining films for the mass audiences. He has directed westerns which is what he is known for but has branched out into different genres. His film Unforgiven received Oscar nominations including best director for which Eastwood won. He then went on to get another win for directing for Million Dollar Baby. As well as receiving nominations for other films such as Mystic River and Letters From Iwo Jima.  He has also demonstrated great acting and directing in his films over the years and the fact he was an actor adds to his directing skill I think.  And he is still directing now at 83 years old. He is currently working on Jersey Boys and may be directing the film American Sniper about Chris Kyle shortly after.

4. Steven Spielberg

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Steven Spielberg is possibly the most famous and most commercially successful directors to have ever lived. He has showed both range and consistency in his directing. Working on action adventure films such as Indiana Jones, working on intense pieces like Schindler’s List of working on animation in Tintin. Now his films do vary with their critical acclaim but I think it is fair to say that Steven Spielberg is a highly skilled director and really knows what he is doing. He also is involved in producing lots of projects which both are successful critically and commercially. its good to see a director work on varied films. He has directed almost 50 films on his career and it is clear that he loves to work and devoted to high quality. You just need to watch any of his films to understand how good a director he is. His most recent film was Lincoln which received critical acclaim and for a biopic it did very well at the box office.

3. Ridley Scott

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Ridley Scott is known to be a very difficult man to work with and despite he may not be as calm as other directors whilst working he seems to get the job done. He has made some iconic films and has been involved in producing many other projects. He has directed some of the most iconic films of the 20th century such as Alien and Blade Runner and at 75 years old he is still working. I like the fact that his films are varied and that he can deliver in both small films with few actors and a small scale such as Alien and then work on epic pieces of cinema like Black Hawk Down. For me is is a truly great director. I also heard a story about Alien. His storyboards were so good and clear about conveying the vision to the producers that he got the films budget doubled simply for the detail and effort he put into per-production. His next film The Counselor comes out this month and has a great ensemble cast and the screenplay was written by the great Cormac Mcarthy.

2. Quentin Tarantino

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Tarantino has a unique style and his characters are in deep with pop culture references which really adds so much to his films. It appears that all his films take place in the same universe and that he has created a parallel world which has interesting characters and fun plots. Writing his stuff from scratch rather than adapting novels or stories he has really been able to leave his mark on the world of directing. Tarantino without doubt is the auteur of this generation and will be remembered as one of the most iconic directors of all time. He works very well with actors he has worked with before and is very involved in casting his projects as he tends to write characters for specific actors. I think this highlights that he has a clear vision of what he wants his films to be and that is a sign of a great director.

1. Christopher Nolan

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Christopher Nolan is my favorite director at the moment because I think he is a fantastic director and I will even call him an auteur. He seems to get the very best out of his actors and everyone who works on his films to make high quality motion pictures. I know he does not like to use visual effects in films and prefers the use of special effects and stunts. The corridor scene from Inception was all filmed on a rotating rig. The snow scenes were shot up in the mountains. In The Dark Knight the truck was really flipped. Some directors would not take the challenge of being so practical with effects but he does. Also his films do contain a great mix of action and plot and he makes a film interesting both visually and through his high story telling skills. I have not hated any of the films he has done and I am looking forward to his next project Interstellar which will be released next year.

What do you think about these directors? I know I have missed some classic directors off this list but I felt this list reflects the time we live in now. Thanks for reading.