Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Her review

Spike Jonze is awesome.
The guy has done some great stuff. Being John Malkovich is genius and one of my favorite movies. Adaptation was really good also. Where the Wild Things Are, while not as good as his past directorial efforts, was beautiful and pretty good. None of them compare to Her. I have to admit, as good as it looked originally, I was quite skeptical. All the critics were praising it so much and it was winning so many awards. This made me skeptical because I thought that the amount it was being hyped, the film could never live up to. I was dead wrong. It lived up to it, and then some. Her is about Theodore Twombly. (Joaquin Phoenix) He's going through a tough divorce. Theodore is lonely, so he buys an artificially intelligent operating system (with the voice of Scarlett Johansson) named Samantha. Slowly, Theodore falls in love with Samantha, and Samantha falls in love with Theodore. Thus begins the beautifully strange movie that is Her. Honestly, if you haven't seen the movie yet, just stop reading and go see it now. I wouldn't want to ruin anything. Her is great for a number of reasons. It shows the relationship between Theodore and Samantha, not as this strange weird thing, but as an understandable and real relationship. You almost begin to understand why this is happening. The whole human/operating system relationship is surprisingly easily to understand and relate to. Spike Jonze did a fantastic job with that. And Scarlett Johansson did a great job too. I can imagine it's hard to communicate all the emotion and feeling she did with just her voice. That worked really well. The whole new take on the modern relationship was very clever and well done, but it's not the only thing that makes this film so great. Spike Jonze does a great job of seeing where we might be in only a few years. Sure some of the technology is more advanced, but it's not too far away from where we are now. It's kind of awesome and kind of scary that stuff like this could happen in our lifetime. Jonze makes this near-future seem real and comparable to our society now. At one point, Theodore is sitting on the steps leading up from the subway. This is one of the first times in the film when he isn't completely absorbed by Samantha and his phone or computer. He watches as people come up the steps. Every person is talking to their operating system or looking at their phone. It's a sad moment, but if you think about it, it's just a reflection of today. Spike Jonze covers that beautifully, without hitting you over the head with it. He also manages to cover and explain all the questions problems with artificial intelligence. Jonze brings up a lot of other points about consciousnesses and being. Some great films before it like Moon and Blade Runner have dealt with similar issues, but not to the extent the Her has. It's astounding the level of creativity and emotion Spike Jonze put into this film. As cheesy as it sounds, Her made me laugh, cry, smile, and question life. It's some movie. Her is about the relationship between a man and his operating system, but it's also about so much more. I'm having trouble putting my feelings and what I think about this movie into words because the movie is just so good. Her is, without a doubt, the best film of the year. The writing and directing is fantastic, the themes are so well dealt with, and the acting is great. Joaquin Phoenix is obviously a great actor. He's been terrific in stuff like The Master and Gladiator. Her is one of his better performances. He portrays Theodore perfectly, not making him a sad-sack loser, but still showing that he is a lonely and hurt man. Phoenix carries a decent chunk of the film on his back, but he does it expertly. Amy Adams is great too, as Theodore's friend Amy. Amy Adams is having a great year. First she was in the big budget Man of Steel. Then gave a great performance in American Hustle. Now she shows off her talent again in Her. She's getting a lot of recognition for American Hustle, but I'm surprised she got none for Her. I don't know what else to say, just go see the film and you'll understand what makes Her such a masterpiece. I hope Spike Jonze does more solo stuff because this was brilliant. I give Her 5 out of 5. It is truly the best film of the year. Happy Viewing and Happy New Year! You can always stay up to date by following me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and liking me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.      

Monday, December 30, 2013

Alexander, Revisited: The Final Cut review

Who better to play a Macedonian Greek than Irishman Colin Farrell? Am I right?
I really like most of Oliver Stone's movies. Some of my favorites include JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, and Platoon. I also really like some of his other stuff like Talk Radio and Natural Born Killers. I would call him one of my favorite directors, that is until I saw his most recent film, Savages. I have a lot of problems with Savages (particularly the ending), but I won't talk about that now. I wanted to believe that Savages was just one bad apple in a great bunch of films. But I had heard that one of Oliver Stone's worst movies was Alexander. Yet, I had also heard that his Final Cut version was a vast improvement on the original. So I figured why waste my time with the original. So I got up a copy of Alexander, Revisited: The Final Cut, and then watched it. While I don't think this film is as bad as some of the reviews said, I certainly have some issues with it. The movie covers pretty much the entire life of Alexander the Great, focusing particularly on his famous conquest of Asia. From watching this, I can tell Oliver Stone is really interested in Alexander the Great. More interested then the audience probably is. Because of this, Alexander packs a boat load of information into three and a half hours. You read me right, three and a half hours. Some movies like The Lord of the Rings films or The Wolf of Wall Street are able to keep me engaged and entertained for about three hours. While Alexander has it's engaging and entertaining moments, especially the battle scenes, in no way did it keep my attention for the entire 214 minutes. I give credit to Oliver Stone for pursuing his vision and making Alexander the way he wanted to. This film is ambitious as hell, and quite obviously took some serious effort and money to make. I want to love it, I really do, but I just can't for a number of reasons. The whole movie could use a lot of trimming. There's about 20 minutes at the end of Anthony Hopkins talking that is completely unnecessary and there's more than a handful of scenes that could easily be taken out without hurting the film. What Mr. Stone could have at least done is put the film into two separate parts, or cut it up into an HBO miniseries or something. The film is just too long for one sitting. It's manageable but not exactly desirable. It's just incredibly long, and it doesn't need to be. Another thing that bothered me was Angelina Jolie. This probably isn't Oliver Stone's fault, but her accent here is just awful. I don't know what she was going for, but her accent sounds weirdly Russian. I don't know why a Greek would have a Russian accent. I understand Angelina is a pretty good actress, but here performance here is just plain bad. Colin Farrell is alright as the title character, but he's nothing special. Which is a shame because Colin Farrell can really act when he wants to, go watch In Bruges and you'll see what I mean. The rest of the cast is just alright. They play their parts but no one blew me away. I honestly can't recommend Alexander, unless you're a history teacher who's really into Alexander the Great. The film is impressive in it's scale and ambition, but in the end it falters. There was one battle scene towards the end in which Alexander fights in India. About halfway through the fight, Stone makes the screen go red. That was interesting and cool in how it reflected what was happening. There were some moments like that that made me really appreciate what Oliver Stone is doing here. The movie has some nice sweeping landscape shots and some impressive battle sequences but I was fairly disappointed. It's not Stone's worst film, but it is very far from his best. If you do plan on watching this, I recommend doing it in two parts. It'll give you time to breathe and I expect you'll enjoy it more. I can't say I got that experience. Alexander isn't a good movie, and it's kind of sad that this is coming from the guy behind such greats as Scarface and Platoon. Hey, at least it's not as bad as Savages. 
You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies. Happy Viewing!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

American Hustle review

American Bullshit was the original title for the film. Which is so much better in my opinion.
American Hustle is a movie about cons, tricks, hustles, and lies. The plot itself is about that, and much of the movie has little things that reflect the whole "con" theme. In the beginning of the film, the screen reads the words, 'Some of this actually happened'. It's hard to tell what's real here. The whole movie is one big con. That's what makes it so damn fun. American Hustle is the kind of movie that you want to see again. You want to pick up on all the little things you missed, and also just enjoy it all again. The film is about a con artist named Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) who, through a series of not-so-legal business transactions, gets himself involved in a sting operation led by federal agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) involving the mafia and Camden New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). Swept up with him are his business colleague/lover, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), and his crazy wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). This is directed by David O. Russell. I'm not as familiar with his filmography as I should be, but his last movie, Silver Linings Playbook, was one of my favorite films of last year. He's done it again with American Hustle, because this is one of my favorite movies of this year. It's actually pretty amazing that this guy can make a spectacular film one year and pretty much immediately make another hit. This movie is crazy entertaining with some awesome performances and a really good screenplay. The film takes place in the 70's. Although it was the actual time the ABSCAM operation, it's also an ideal setting for the movie. The 70's was an era of fake hair, which there is a lot of in this film, and fake music. This whole movie is about fakery, cons, and other stuff of that nature. The whole 70's setting works perfectly for the film. The whole movie just works so well. If you haven't heard by now, the acting here is terrific. Christian Bale is the obvious standout playing the head con artist, Irving Rosenfeld. He gained a decent amount of weight for the role, but his performance is much more than aesthetic. He portrays his character perfectly. Everything from his Bronx accent to his 'elaborate' comb over. While his character is funny, it could be easily turned into a thin caricature. Bale, despite all his cons and tricks, makes the character seem completely real. It's amazing how damn versatile he is. Going from a psycho killer, to Batman, to this takes some skill. Christian Bale obviously has skill. The female leads here are also great. Amy Adams gives another knock out performance as Rosenfeld's partner with a fake British accent, Sydney Prosser. Amy Adams has continued to prove that she is a more than capable actress. She was awesome in last year's The Master. She's even better here and I hope she wins an Oscar for this role. I can honestly say she is one of my favorite actresses. Jennifer Lawrence already won an Oscar for David O. Russell's last film. I wouldn't be surprised if she won again. It's incredible how she can give a great performance in a small indie film, then star in The Hunger Games and in the new X-Men movie, then star in two smaller, more acclaimed films. You could say she's the female Christian Bale. Anyway, she's fantastic here. most of the time she plays a very likable character. Here she's playing a crazy and generally annoying character. And she does it very,very well. Bradley Cooper is really good too. Which if two years ago you called Bradley Cooper a very good actor I would have laughed in your face. After Silver Linings Playbook, The Place Beyond The Pines, and this, I have a lot of faith in Mr. Cooper. Jeremy Renner has a smaller role as Mayor Carmine Polito and i know he's going to get zero recognition for his role but I thought he did a great job. Renner is a very underrated actor. Although American Hustle has done very well critically, recently I've heard a lot of complaints about how overrated it is and how it will win Best Picture but won't deserve it. It's not The Wolf of Wall Street but I'd be perfectly happy if this won Best Picture. It's certainly making my Best of the Year list and I would certainly see it again. American Hustle is one of the most enjoyable films I've seen all year and it entertained the hell out of me. It combined comedy and serious filmmaking very expertly. It's soundtrack also worked really, really well. I am going to give American Hustle 4.8 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing you guys. Remember you can always follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.        

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street review

Gordon Gekko's got nothing on Jordan Belfort. Nothing.
Jordan Belfort is a multi-millionaire stock broker and founder of Stratton Oakmont, a brokerage firm on Wall Street. He has a huge mansion gloriously furnished on the most expensive property there is. He often will have events at his firm that involve throwing a dwarf at a target, and bringing a marching band accompanied by strippers into the office. He has a trophy wife, and still enjoys the company of prostitutes many days of the week. Belfort takes a cornucopia of  drugs everyday to keep him going, including morphine, because, as he says "Morphine is awesome!". He is the subject of Martin Scorsese's newest film, The Wolf of Wall Street. The film opens with Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) explaining who he is over voice over while, as I mentioned earlier, he is throwing a very small man at a Velcro target. Thus begins the extremely entertaining and often ridiculous tale of Mr. Jordan Belfort. This is one case where you can say truth is stranger than fiction. The film documents Belfort's rise from ambitious kid to multi-million dollar entity. And it also document his fall. First off, this film was incredibly entertaining. It may be Scorsese's best film since The Departed, maybe even since Casino, but it isn't Scorsese's best movie. What I can say is that it is Martin Scorsese's most entertaining, insane, and funny film yet. Truly, it is awesome to have a 71 year old man make a film so vibrant, crazy, and entertaining as this. The Wolf of Wall Street runs at about three hours. I was completely absorbed the whole time. Some critically acclaimed movies like Lincoln and Blue Jasmine were well done in many ways, but failed to keep my attention and entertain. Scorsese (with the help of screenwriter Terence Winter) manages to craft a wonderfully enjoyable film, that is also a truly good film. He's not sacrificing content and message for flashy-ness and beautifully filmed scenes (like movies such as Spring Breakers kind of did). Point is I really enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street, and it was really good. For many, many reasons other than just being incredibly entertaining. The acting was quite good, for one. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most committed and talented actors working today. He is occasionally talked up for more then he is, but overall I think the guy is really good. He's proved he can act in movies like The Aviator, Django Unchained, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape. I can honestly say The Wolf of Wall Street showcases Leonardo DiCaprio's best performance yet. Him and Scorsese are a fantastic actor/director team that I hope keep on working together for many movies to come. I really hope Leo wins an Oscar for this. He not only personifies the money and drug addled craziness of Jordan Belfort, but takes the role to many different levels. Jonah Hill also gives a more than decent performance as Belfort's close associate and partner in crime, Donnie Azoff. Hill is definitely a capable actor as he's shown before, he only solidifies that now. The rest of the supporting cast is really good too. Matthew McConaughey shows up for a very funny cameo. McConaughey is an actor who I used to hate, and now really appreciate and love. His role here may be small, but it's still pretty damn good. Many of you may know that Martin Scorsese is my all-time favorite director. I have a lot of favorite directors like Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson among others, but Scorsese is the only one who never disappoints and always continues to wow me. I can't think of a bad movie the guy has made! His work here is a fantastic return to the insane form that inhabited some of his stuff like GoodFellas, Casino, and After Hours. The Wolf of Wall Street is insane and excessive and over-the-top, but Martin Scorsese does it all so, so well. He uses old devices like voice over and constantly moving camera to really tell this story. You could easily fail at doing the story of Jordan Belfort. You could make it too gratuitous without really giving meaning to the story and exploring the themes. Luckily Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese know what they're doing. The Wolf of Wall Street is about not only the excessive greed and malpractice of Wall Street, but it's about learning from your mistakes and the misinterpretation of the American Dream. What frightens me is that people will miss the meaning of the story and use it as an excuse and guide for trying to live like Jordan Belfort. Many people completely missed the meaning of Scarface, how excessive greed and power will eventually bring you down, and took it as a handbook on how to be a "cool" gangster. Similar to that, many people were "disgusted" at the film because of it's many scenes involving drugs, sex, more drugs, and other devious acts of debauchery. What these critic don't understand is that these acts are necessary to the themes and message of the movie! The Wolf of Wall Street is a cautionary tale. I just hope people realize that. I've heard a lot of talk recently about how 2013 is one of the best years for movies in a long time. With stuff like this coming out, I can't help but agree. We are in a golden age of cinema. Martin Scorsese is just one fine example of that. Scorsese is focusing on Wall St. for this movie. He is known for his mafia films like The Departed and GoodFellas. I think they're very similar. Scorsese paints a picture of excessive and crazy Wall Street life in the 80's and 90's, that isn't all that different from the mafia life he told us about in some of his other films. Making movies like this seems to be what the guy was born to do. If you haven't noticed by now, I really liked this film. Call me crazy, but it may be the best of the year (so far). And yes, I would watch it again in a heartbeat. I give The Wolf of Wall Street 5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing everybody. If you want to keep up to date with my reviews and other things, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.              

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford review

Sam Rockwell is good in literally everything. Everything.
Recently I've been hearing a lot about how good this film is. There was a revival screening in New York and some of my favorite critics to read were doing re-reviews praising it. It's written and directed by Andrew Dominik, who wrote/directed last years Killing Them Softly (also with Brad Pitt). I really enjoyed Killing Them Softly, and because I'm watching a lot of westerns this month, I thought this would be a great movie to review. And I think I'm right. The story is a very well done, and almost heartbreaking in a way. Young Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) has always idolized the outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt). He's kept dime novels telling of James' escapades under his bed for years, constantly reading them. He collects other memorabilia relating to Jesse and the James gang. Ford wants nothing more than to be a member of the James gang. Soon, it seems like he may get his chance. But Robert gets involved in police work and starts to question whether Jesse James is the man he thought he was. Ultimately leading to what the title told you will happen.  Now regardless of everything, let me get it out of the way right now and tell you that The Assassination of Jesse James is the most beautiful western, possibly even most beautiful film, I've ever seen. Roger Deakins should have won the Oscar he was nominated for for cinematography. The shots are utterly astounding.I don't want to sound too corny with saying that but this truly is a breathtaking film to look at. This could be a poorly written, poorly acted, and generally ridiculous film, but the cinematography would still make it worth the watch. Granted, it is a well written, well acted, and generally awesome film that also has mind blowing cinematography and camera work. It's no perfect movie though. At times I was riveted and even entertained by this film. At other times I felt quite bored, and it started to really drag. But that was only occasionally. Most of the time though, I was in love with Jesse James (the movie, not the person). Dominik uses this novel-style narration for the movie that really works well. Especially against Deakins' beautifully filmed backdrop. I remember thinking how great Andrew Dominik was when I watched Killing Them Softly, now I know that this guy is going places. The performances here are great too. Brad Pitt is more than capable to no one's surprise. Pitt may be the biggest name here but Casey Affleck is the real star. Casey Affleck blew me away as Robert Ford. No wonder the guy got an Oscar nod for this! I've seen Affleck in some other stuff like Good Will Hunting and the Ocean's movies, but never like this. He really shows the pain Ford felt of being overshadowed by his older brother and how all he wanted was to be like Jesse James. Affleck portrays Robert Ford with the perfect mix of sad rejection, want for fame, and anger for everyone. Who knew Ben Affleck's brother had such acting talent? Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, and the always great Sam Rockwell give some good supporting roles (especially Rockwell). Many westerns focus more on a journey, or the violence, or some needless plot point. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford focuses on the characters and their emotions, the weather and the landscapes, and so much more. This is a much more thoughtful and articulate western than many I've seen. This isn't The Lone Ranger my friends. Westerns are declining in popularity already, and the fact that this was much more different then what people thought it would be, are probably the reasons this movie did so poorly commercially when it was released. It's really a shame considering how damn good this film actually is. If you haven't seen this, I urge you to immediately. Even though you already know the ending. I don't want to say this is my favorite western of all time, but I don't want to say it's not either. After a couple more viewings, I can say this may find it's way unto my favorite of all time list. Also, Roger Deakins' cinematography. That guy is great. He shot Prisoners, Skyfall, and some other stuff and is always astounding. Just see the movie. Happy Viewing guys, and if I don't see ya, Happy Holidays! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies if you haven't already.                

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis review

Movies like Inside Llewyn Davis are hard to write about.
Like many Coen Brothers films they're simple. Yet also complex on other levels. They definitely have a lot more to them than immediately meets the eye, but I can't figure it out exactly yet. And they're really good. It can be hard to express how you feel about a movie a lot of times without sounding cliche. I'm trying to find what to say about this movie, but to be honest it's pretty hard for me. But I'll try. First off let me tell you what this here film is about. It takes place in 1960's New York. It's centered around a cynical young folk singer named Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac). Llewyn is what you'd call down on his luck. He doesn't have an actual address. He can't afford an address. He hops from couch to couch, sleeping at one friend's house at one night and another's the next. He lives off of the minimal money he makes off his musical gigs. Mostly playing at The Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village. Llewyn's life seems to be an endless cycle of disappointments and obstacles, each seemingly worse than the next. His partner jumps off the George Washington Bridge. Gets his married friend pregnant. Accidentally lost his other friend's cat. Gets stranded on the highway on the way to Chicago. It seems like Llewyn Davis never catches a break. His whole existence is a pointless Odyssey. A Frodo without a mount Doom. A hero with no destination and no epic battle. Embarking on a journey to nowhere. An exasperated adventurer who just wants to sell his record. Davis isn't your classic hero. To put it in the words of Carey Mulligan's character, Jean, he's an asshole. Although you definitely feel for him most of the time, Llewyn Davis is the kind of guy you want to punch sometimes. Llewyn is a jerk, but his crappy circumstances are partially to blame. He reminds me a little of Larry Gopnik, the protagonist in the very underrated Coen Bros. movie, A Serious Man. They both have a lot of problems that seem to be unceremoniously dumped on their laps that they have to try and deal with. Their endings may not be happy, but they're story is certainly one worth telling. The Coen's are master filmmakers and I absolutely love them. The Big Lebowski, Fargo, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Raising Arizona. The Coen Brothers are cinematic geniuses who have birthed an array of awesome films. Inside Llewyn Davis isn't their best, but it's still really good. Even if you had problems with the characters and the story (which I did not), you still can at least appreciate their darkly funny and sometimes somber dialog and their fantastic use of camera and editing. Many directors are great at say, directing actors, but they struggle in many other areas. Joel and Ethan Coen are pretty versatile in their skills. They direct the actors in such a way that they really get the most out of them, but they also create such a vivid world in which their movie takes place. For No Country they made this whole dangerous, dusty western atmosphere that fit the movie just fine. For Inside Llewyn Davis they have captured the whole 60's NYC folk scene perfectly. Not only that, but every emotion and aspect of Llewyn's life seems to be reflected into the film's setting. It all works really well. Granted, it's not a perfect film. It drags in certain spots and there are a few parts that are longer than they should be. Overall though, it was really quite well done. The acting was really terrific too. Oscar Isaac was fantastic as the title character. I remember seeing that guy in some really small roles but all I can say is, where has he been all this time. I suppose it takes the Coen's to really bring the potential out in an actor. Carey Mulligan is superb too as Llewyn's sometimes friend. Justin Timberlake was alright as Carey Mulligan's character's boyfriend, but he' yet to show he can really act. John Goodman shows up for a bit as a washed out jazz musician. He brings some laughs. Although then again, when doesn't John Goodman make you laugh? All that stuff is great, but I have to mention the soundtrack. Inside Llewyn Davis may not be the best movie ever, or even the best of the year. But it certainly has the best soundtrack in any movie I can remember. There are a lot of fantastic folk songs here. The movie is worth seeing for the music alone. Yeah, it's that good. Anyway, Inside Llewyn Davis isn't The Coen Brother's best, but it's still really terrific. I can't help but recommend it. I give Inside Llewyn Davis 4.6 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and make sure to like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies! 
By the way, I'm going to stop doing #tbt reviews so I can have more freedom to review more movies and not worry about what day to review them on. I'm also getting increasingly annoyed with the hashtag so that's a reason too. Anyway, Happy Viewing1 (Happy Holidays too!)  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug review

Dragons can be be pretty damn greedy sometimes. How about some gold for the rest of us Smaug?
About a year ago, the much anticipated film, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released. Although I vastly enjoyed the first installment in the Hobbit movies, it was met with fairly mixed critical reception. That was quite a surprise considering the massive critical praise (and numerous awards) for Jackson's Lord of the Ring's movies. Just reminding you, I had very little problems with the first Hobbit movie. It wasn't up to par with the Lord of the Ring's films, but it was pretty good. With the newest Hobbit movie, I think it's safe to say Peter Jackson is back on his A game. Sure, it may not be Return of the King, but it's still pretty awesome. This time around, Bilbo Baggins and The Dwarves (Is that a band name?) continue their unexpected journey of trying to reclaim The Lonely Mountain where the dwarves once resided until it was taken over by Smaug the dragon. Meanwhile, Gandalf the Grey goes off to find out more about the mysteriously evil being called The Necromancer. First off let me say, this is a much more exciting and well done film than the first. That's coming from a guy who liked the first. Pretty much everything about it is better. I saw this in 3D. I've only seen a few movies in my lifetime, like Gravity and Avatar, that have been worth seeing in 3D. The Desolation of Smaug is one of those movies. The big sweeping shots of these beautifully CGI-ed fantasy landscapes really pop with the 3D. It makes the whole thing seem so real and exciting. That's another great thing about the film everything seems very wonderful and fantasy-like, yet I was so drawn into the story and visuals that I didn't notice the preposterously fantastical element of it all. I was there with Bilbo, trying to run away from Smaug. I was with Gandalf and Radagast, climbing up and old enchanted fortress. It all is so enthralling. Not to say the movie doesn't have it's problems. I thought the CGI in the beginning was a little shoddy and strange looking, but it only increased in quality after that. A whole lot of people were complaining about the film's three hour running time. First of all, it's only about two hours and forty minutes. Second, with the fast moving and exciting plot plus Jackson's nice direction, i barely noticed the time pass. Some movies, I'll use Lincoln as an example, make their running time feel stretched out ten fold. It feels like you can barely sit through it! The Hobbit make it's running time feel necessary. I don't think this movie'd be the same if it was shorter. I think the three hours are all used to their full extent. The actors aren't really the showcase here, but they do a good job. Martin Freeman, (coming off a nice turn in The World's End) plays his courageous and small hobbit quite well and Ian McKellen is good as always as the wise wizard, Gandalf the Grey. Benedict Cumberbatch does some deliciously evil voice over work for both Smaug and The Necromancer. Luke Evans shows up for a bit as some guy named Bard. He really didn't do anything that he hasn't done in any of those crappy period flicks he's been in recently (The Raven? Ugh.). Orlando Bloom comes back as the very awesome Legolas. I know Bloom can act, but he doesn't really show it here. He's not bad, but he's not great either. He does kick some serious Orc ass though. Most middle-of-the-trilogy films almost always falter and almost never live up to the first one. The second installment in The Hobbit trilogy completely the first in so many ways. Overall, The Desolation of Smaug is an exciting and entertaining film that I can definitely recommend. In a season of movies trying too hard for Oscars, it's good to have a well made blockbuster like this to break everything up. I give The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 4.1 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! As always, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

#tbt The Searchers review

This film stars John Wayne. The movie star, not the notorious and horrifying serial killer. Just wanted to clear that up.
As many of you guys may know, I'm focusing mostly on watching and reviewing westerns this month as part of a project to really understand the genre. I started by watching High Noon (which I thought was very overrated, but not that bad), and then proceeded to watch John Ford's 1956 classic, The Searchers. Let's juts say this movie has earned it's 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. The plot of the film is that a group of Comanche Native Americans murder almost an entire family but kidnap the youngest daughter. Civil war veteran Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), was the brother of the man whose family was killed. So Edwards and his adopted nephew, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), go off  in search of the missing girl. I have mentioned, in some of my other reviews, that westerns seem to have fallen out of favor in the past few decades. I can only think of about three great ones that came out in the 2000's, and two of them are remakes. Yes, I think it's fair to say that the western genre is endangered. It truly is a shame though, because the western was a once great genre. The Searchers is proof of that. The whole movie is just fantastic. It's an epic, mixed with a revenge flick, with a little bit of buddy movie thrown in there. And it's incredibly watchable. I never thought of John Wayne as a "good" actor. He always seemed to play the same character, and just never wowed me.Even most of the stuff I saw him in was just alright. I felt that the supposedly great Rio Bravo was a fairly unoriginal movie with a mediocre performance by Wayne. I can't say the same for The Searchers. His performance here is the best I've seen of him yet. Especially one of the last scenes he really displays some acting prowess. I won't ruin it for you though. Just see the movie. There's a common misconception that old films are boring, stuffy, and irrelevant. I won't lie, I once thought the same thing. There are many great oldies out there, The Searchers being one of them. The last 10 minutes are some of the coolest and more exciting sequences in film history. It involves John Wayne's character and a whole bunch of cavalry dudes charging a Comanche camp and it's pure awesome. I'm sure many movies have been inspired by this. It's not just a straight western either, it goes deeper than that. Ethan Edwards is very cautious and prejudice against Comanches, partially stemming from his experiences in the war and partially just from the mindset of the time. His partner and adopted nephew, Martin, is part Comanche. This proves to be a big problem for Ethan  throughout the movie. The fact that his niece has been kidnapped by people of that race doesn't help him at all. At one point he learns that Debbie, his niece, has lived with the Native Americans so long that she has begun to accept them as her people and live like them. This angers him so much to the point where he wants to murder his own niece. The transformation he undergoes is pretty astounding, and Wayne does it terrifically. I have no idea why this film received no accolades at all, especially for John Wayne's performance. My only problem with The Searchers is that it drags occasionally, especially in the middle of the movie. Otherwise it really is a damn good western. If you haven't seen it, even if you don't like westerns in particular, you really should. It's a well done movie that I wouldn't hesitate to watch again. Happy Viewing y'all. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.        

Thursday, December 5, 2013

#tbt Annie Hall review

"I'd never want to belong to a club that would want someone like me as a member."
This is how comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) describes his love life. Finally being with a woman he wants to be with, and soon growing bored and detached, eventually leaving her. Soon Alvy meets Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), a lovable and occasionally clumsy girl who he soon falls deeply in love with. Woody Allen creates a relationship and a story that is very funny and fresh. I haven't seen a romantic comedy done this well since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Annie Hall is the movie that pretty much rocketed Woody Allen to stardom and placed him on everyone's top directors list. It's the film that everyone points to as a sign of Allen's genius. It won 4 Oscars, including Best Picture. I can see why it's not just brilliant, it's one of those movies that may have actually changed film itself. So yeah, I think it's safe to say Annie Hall is pretty good. And it's a real shame I haven't seen it until now. Woody Allen's most recent film, Blue Jasmine, got a lot of praise and is even getting some awards buzz. Personally, I didn't think it was all that great. It had some really nice performances, but overall it just wasn't that special. But I'm not here to review Blue Jasmine. What I can say, is that Annie Hall makes Blue Jasmine look like Grown Ups 2. It's that good, I assure you. Spike Lee sometimes uses the technique of talking to the camera. That same documentary-style technique is used in many TV shows today like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family. It seems to have all started with Annie Hall. The film has such a simple plot: a man looks back at his broken relationship wondering what went wrong. Yet, Allen makes it work so well. I've never been as captivated and entertained by a romantic comedy like I was with Annie Hall. It's so well done. Especially the screenplay, written by Woody Allen himself, is so witty and smart. It mixes very interesting and original techniques with pop culture references and poignancy into a truly fantastic movie. There's one scene in particular where Alvy and Annie are just getting to know each other and are talking on Annie's roof. They're making small talk, but in subtitles is what they're actually thinking. Alvy will say one thing, but underneath him it'll say "I wonder what she looks like naked.". It's really quite clever. I probably don't have enough life experience to "get" Annie Hall. But I can still enjoy it. And boy, did i enjoy it. If I watch Annie Hall a few more times, I'm sure it'll make it as one of my favorites of all time. Maybe it already is. Annie Hall is the kind of movie you want to watch again. Happy Throwback Thursday and as always, Happy Viewing. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!
P.S. I've decided to devote this month to westerns. So for the rest of the month I'll be watching and reviewing exclusively westerns in order to really understand the genre as a whole. Then at the end of all that I'm going it write a piece on my thoughts about the entire western genre. Just wanted to let you guys know so you're not wondering why I'm only doing westerns for my next Throwback Thursday reviews. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa review

Just because this movie is about a grandpa, doesn't mean you should take your's. I take it grandma and grandpa wouldn't find this movie so...tasteful.
Going into Bad Grandpa, I did not expect high brow and subtle comedy that you'd find in a good Sofia Coppola movie. What I expected was a lot of hidden camera gags and fart jokes and stuff of that nature. What I got was a lot of hidden camera gags and fart jokes and stuff of that nature. You get what you pay for. Although in this case that's not all that bad. Surprisingly, this film actually has a plot. A pretty flimsy plot at that, but it does have one. Irving Zisman's (Johnny Knoxville) wife dies. His grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll), needs to be driven down to North Carolina to his burn out father. As it turns out, Irving has to do it. Lots of pranks, drunkenness, and genital jokes ensue. Jackass' Bad Grandpa would've worked a lot better as a TV show, as Jackass originally was. The whole movie is filled with some pretty crazy scenes, and a few hilariously dirty jokes, but the whole story and emotional aspect of it feels a bit forced and more than a few of the jokes don't carry. But when the jokes do carry, they really carry. At certain points in the film I was doubled over with laughter. One scene in particular made me crack up so hard my ribs hurt afterward. Bad Grandpa is the kind of movie you see on a lazy Saturday afternoon to kill some time. It's funny and enjoyable, and it's a general good time. Yet, it's not much more than an entertaining time waster. It's slightly better than some of the other Jackass films, but it's still nothing special. In the end, it's just Johnny Knoxville doing embarrassing things to unsuspecting civilians. It's not that that's a bad thing, it's really just nothing new. We've seen that in the other Jackass films and in stuff like Punk'd. Despite all that, I still had a good time at Bad Grandpa. Sure it's great to have some quirky indie films like Frances Ha or a harsh and emotional drama like 12 Years a Slave (both of which are terrific, by the way), but we still need movies like Bad Grandpa to keep things light and make sure we still can laugh a little. Most critics it seem like to seem like stiff and proper film scholars who don't have time for peasant trash like Jackass' Bad Grandpa. The truth is, we all need a little Bad Grandpa to tickle our funny bones every once in a while. I didn't think every joke was great and I felt certain elements of the movie were unnecessary, but Bad Grandpa isn't bad at all. So in conclusion, I say this movie is not a comedy classic, but an enjoyable little film that certainly helps the time pass. Yeah it doesn't have the story of The Big Lebowski or the poignant characters and dialog of Shaun of the Dead but not all comedies have to. I'd see Bad Grandpa, but I'd keep an open mind and really try and just enjoy it. If you do that, it's a pretty fun movie to watch. I give Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa 3.5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! Remember (even though I put this in every review), you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.           

#tbt The American review

Happy Throwback Thursday!
I remember back when The American came out, it was marketed as a gripping action thriller. The American, while it is about assassins and some very thriller-esque elements, is not at all a pulse pounding action flick that it was marketed as in the trailers. It's about an assassin and gun craftsman (George Clooney) who is on vacation in Italy, when he is given a new assignment. He goes only by the name of Jack. It suits him well. Jack is a solitary man with features that seem to be made of stone. He is quiet and emanates an aura of cold intensity, like that of a samurai. He has a dangerous past, and the way things seem to be going, his future will be just as dangerous. Jack doesn't want the danger anymore. He falls in love with a beautiful young prostitute named Clara and wants to spend his life with her. His boss has other plans. I've heard many people complain about the very slow pacing of The American. I have no problem with it. For if the movie had been a fast paced actioner of the same tier as say, The Bourne movies, it would've been a completely different film with much less meaning. It wouldn't really have fit. The movie has the same pace like that of a slow burning time bomb. The film's pace is almost reflective of the main character. Slow yet intense, and seemingly cut-and-dry yet more complex after a second glance. I also think the movie's title is very fitting. Clooney's character is just that American to everyone. To many in the film, he's known simply as The American. There's nothing special about him, he's just doing his job. But on second glance, he's more than that. The character of Jack reminded me very much of Ryan Gosling's character in Drive. The same stoic features and intense persona, both hopelessly in love, yet bound for a short and violent life. The American is superior to Drive though, because it manages to bring you deeper into this character. The American is different than any assassin or spy film I've ever seen. It focuses much more on the character's inner struggles than on bad guys with guns. It relies more on it's beautiful use of Italian scenery than fast car chases. Not that there's anything wrong with a good car chase every once in a while.At one point, Clooney is sitting in a Italian cafe. Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in The West is playing on the television in the cafe. I think you could make a comparison to Charles' Bronson's harmonica playing gunslinger. A quiet and subdued anti-hero who does what needs to be done, and no more. Some will not like The American for it's slow pace and sometimes unexplained plot. Although the climax is worth it and when you see how it all comes together, it's quite satisfying. The American is not a perfect film by any means. I'm not even sure if I'd want to watch it again. But I am glad I watched it once, and I urge you to do the same. Happy Viewing and Happy Thanksgiving guys. 
You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review

This movie ain't too bad despite the fact that the whole series is a ripoff of an awesome Japanese movie. Battle Royale came first people!
A soldier and it's fellow comrades stalk through a steamy foreign jungle. Bugs buzz around them, biting them. Their weapons are drawn. They just want to stay alive. This is war. What I am describing is the new Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. At the same time, I'm also describing the Vietnam War. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), is the heroine of the Hunger Games films. She was the victor of the last games and is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. She goes hunting and lives with her family, trying to make things normal. But she is plagued to flashbacks and dreams and horrific images that all remind her of the awful experience that was the last Hunger Games. People applaud her and shower her with the attention that celebrities of today all get. She wants no part of it. It all seems so fake compared to her actual reality. All the excessive and ridiculousness of the Capitol (the central city of the dystopian world) seems unnecessary and almost cruel. She goes cross country on a Victory Tour. It's supposed to be a fun affair. But it is all a masquerade. She had become a Mockingjay to the people, a symbol of hope for the rebellion against the totalitarian government. Again, she really wants no part of this. To make matters worse she's shipped off to the Hunger Games again as part of President Snow's (Donald Sutherland) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) plan to destroy the image of Katniss as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden peoples. Yeah, things aren't looking to bright for Katniss Everdeen. So before I was making a comparison between Catching Fire and the Vietnam War. You see, I think these movies are pretty great and want to be serious deep films. Yet, they get caught up in pleasing the (mostly) teenage female audience and have to put in these cheesy forced "love" subplots. There's nothing wrong with a little romance here and there, but this movie doesn't need it. It's really about a girls struggle to stay sane in the face of war, similar to movies like Platoon and Apocalypse Now. It isn't really about the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. That stuff is in there for more for the entertainment and appeal of the Twilight audience. Honestly, this movie would be a lot better if it didn't shoehorn in stupid subplots like that. Besides those few issues, Catching Fire is an intense and fairly entertaining entree into the Hunger Games series. I think it's a decent entree into the dystopian sci-fi genre itself. Director Francis Lawrence certainly knows how to handle that stuff after his 2007 film, I Am Legend. Jennifer Lawrence (no relation to the director) gives a very nice performance here. She is already has an  Oscar and another nomination to go along with it. Lawrence does the whole wounded veteran thing as nicely as one can do the wounded veteran thing. I can't say the same for the rest of the cast. Woody Harrelson and Josh Hutcherson both do their roles fine, nothing special though, but Liam Hemsworth plays his character as if it were a block of wood with hair. Unlike his much more talented brother, Chris, Liam Hemsworth has yet to show he has any acting ability at all. Jena Malone (who I last saw in Donnie Darko, where's she been?) does a nice job as the very angry Joanna Mason. One of the best parts of the film in my opinion, was the effects and set pieces. There's one particular sweeping shot of the very realistic rain forest that was reminiscent of movies like Blood Diamond. It's really pretty cool how damn far we've come special effects wise. A lot of people have been saying how Catching Fire can't be that good because it's the middle of the series. Wrong, I say! Catching Fire is actually a lot better in my opinion than the first flick. And I actually really liked the first. This one is actually trying to be a deeper, more psychological movie. It doesn't always succeed, but it's quite good when it does. Despite it's pratfalls, I'd say it's a nicely done film. Looks like Catching Fire didn't burn out! (wink, wink). I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 3.6 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing everyone. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.  

#tbt Cloud Atlas review: A Revisitation

Even after my second viewing, this movie is still more confusing than a Rubik's cube wrapped in a puzzle box.
I saw Cloud Atlas about a year ago and felt very underwhelmed. I thought it too syrupy and strange to really like. I thought it was alright, but it didn't have a lasting effect on me. The mixed reviews convinced me not too go back for a second viewing. I soon forgot about the film. Yet, after a while I started to see some adamant defenses of the movie, the late Roger Ebert even gave it 4/4 stars. I figured I might as well give it another shot. I am quite glad I gave it another shot. Cloud Atlas is the most wonderfully confusing, yet fulfilling, movies I've seen in a while. For some reason the second time it really clicked. Maybe it's because I payed more attention, or maybe I just wasn't in the proper mood the first time. Point is, I really did benefit from a second viewing. Which is why I'm writing this review now, to give you my fresh opinion. Usually I give a plot synopsis in my reviews. I won't give one here, it'd just be too lengthy and confusing. What I will tell you is the movie is a series of six stories intertwined into a movie. The stories are definitely connected somehow, possibly through some external force or maybe reincarnation, but I'm not completely sure. Cloud Atlas is a movie where you have to pay very close attention. Look away for a minute and you'll miss some very big, and sometimes small, information. On my first viewing I thought I completely understood the film. I couldn't have been more wrong. On my second viewing I realized I had dismissed and just missed so many important and integral parts of the movie. I now know a third viewing would do me good, but I honestly don't think I'll ever truly understand this. Then again, that's sort of the beauty of Cloud Atlas. It's this crazy dream with so many crevices containing extra plot points and little cameos and things. I feel I could get something new each and every time. The story isn't the only good part of the film. There are some truly terrific performances here. Every actor plays a multitude of characters so there's a lot of room for experimentation and talent. Tom Hanks plays some of the better characters. Particularly a lying greedy doctor in 1849 and a heroic native on a post apocalyptic island among other characters. Jim Sturgess and Ben Whishaw are also both quite good. The real star here is the effects and camerawork. There are some really astounding shots here. The future segment in Neo Seoul is one of the more beautiful things I've seen in film since Life of Pi. I just don't understand why a movie so intricate and awesome as this got a total of zero Oscar nominations last year. Cloud Atlas is a dreamscape mixed with mythology and a little bit of epic thrown in there. It's extraordinary. It's not all perfect though. The movie is about three hours long. Most of it is really exciting and thought provoking, but it does drag at times and I feel like at least a good fifteen minutes could have been cut out. Although it wasn't a bad idea to have three directors to do this, I feel like the Wachowski siblings were perfectly capable of doing it all themselves. Nothing against Tom Tykwer, but it's obvious whose the more talented directors here. Of course The Matrix was great (I'm actually a fan of all three as strange as that sounds), but a lot of people lost hop in the Wachowski's after Speed Racer. Cloud Atlas shows not only that they know what they're doing, but that they cans still make an awesomely complex tale that transcends time and reality. Even knowing that I'll probably never really understand this film, I can take comfort in the fact that it's well done and just very interestingly cool in it's own way. If you've seen the movie, regardless your opinion, I urge you to see it again. I'll probably see it at least two more times before I can really be done with it. I feel like Cloud Atlas is slowly working its way into my list favorite movies. Strange, philosophical, and just overall awesome; I'd recommend it. As always, Happy Viewing and Happy Throwback Thursday! Also, sorry that I'm not putting this up on a Thursday. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

#tbt A Fistful of Dollars review

This is the western that all other westerns wish they were.
I absolutely love westerns. Some people think they're cliche and outdated. Personally, I think they're great. It seems westerns are going out of style, unfortunately. Yet there have been a few modern triumphs. For example; Django Unchained, 3:10 to Yuma, or The Coen Brother's True Grit remake. Back in the 50's and 60's, the Old West was in style. The days of John Wayne and the six shooter. One notable western star of the time was Clint Eastwood. Before he became the rambling old person he is now, he was in many films of the genre from The Outlaw Josey Wales to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is part of Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy (aka, The Man with No Name Trilogy). Starting with A Fistful of Dollars, arguably the best in the series. This movie is a classic western. Filled with shootouts, big dusty landscapes, and lots of Old Western weaponry. The plot is quite simple, yet it works so well. An unnamed drifter arrives in a small Mexican town and finds two rival families at war. He uses his incredible gun slinging skills and his wits to put the two families against each other, while also helping a mother get back to her family. There is a preconceived notion many people have that old movies are boring and not worth watching. I will admit, some older movies take on a slightly slower pace then would be desired. Yet, there are many old movies that are just as exciting as new ones. A Fistful of Dollars is one of those. It's an enjoyable and fun film that doesn't sacrifice content and quality for more action. I can honestly say this goes up with some of my favorite westerns of all time like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and Django Unchained. One major component to the film is it's incredible score from Ennio Morricone. Morricone did the musical scores for most of Sergio Leone's films. His awesome score for A Fistful of Dollars adds more to the film than most soundtracks usually do. I think only Jurassic Park has ever had a score so powerful and important to it's movie. Movies like Dollars paved the way for more modern "neo westerns' like No Country for Old Men, 2 Guns, and practically every Robert Rodriguez movie. Without great westerns like this, the movie industry itself would be completely different. It's something you could call revolutionary. A landmark in filmmaking. It also boasts one of he most memorable performances Eastwood has ever given. To some (not me), A Fistful of Dollars seems very outdated and cliche today. I think it is not. A Fistful of Dollars is one of the movies that were so well done, that it was copied off of and used as example. This is THE western. I think it's a real shame there aren't more westerns out there today. It's a great genre. And A Fistful of Dollars is a great film. Happy Viewing and Happy Throwback Thursday. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Salinger review

What a phony.
J.D. Salinger is one of the most famous American writers of all time. He wrote on of the most famous American novels of all time, The Catcher in the Rye. This documentary is all about him. Yet, it seems to completely miss the point of J.D. Salinger as a man. Salinger was a man who hated all the spotlights and falseness of Hollywood. This movie forgets that and makes J.D. Salinger out to be some heroic writing god. He wasn't all that. Salinger said himself that he's just a fiction writer. Yeah he wrote a fantastic book that really personified the feelings some people had but he was just a great writer. At first glance the film seems like it might be trying to make the point that he was just a man, but it quickly goes off the rails and makes him seem like some sort of Jesus figure. J.D. Salinger would've hated this movie. I think Holden Caulfield would've hated this too. It's just as phony and cheesy as all the things Catcher in the Rye was against. Every damn frame of the film is followed by swells of classical music, the end of the movie felt so saccharine and syrupy that I almost puked. The film doesn't even explain most of the man's life. His childhood is barely even mentioned, it just dwells on how messed up the guy got from WWII. They have all these celebrities lined up talking about how damn great Salinger and his works are when really the famous people are just there to catch your eye and distract you. Also, why the hell did Shane Salerno direct this out of anyone in the movie world? The guys written such astounding classics as Savages and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. I was being sarcastic as you probably know but I didn't want to cause any confusion. Savages had the worst ending I've seen in any movie in a while, and AvP is just crap. And this is the guy we're trusting to handle our J.D. Salinger documentary. The whole thing just feels shoddy and fake. A lot of the interviews are shot with unnecessary and obvious green screen that takes away from everything some of the people are saying. The synopsis was saying that the documentary was absorbing. That couldn't be further from the truth. Salinger is boring, misguided, and overall pretty dull. The whole thing seems as if some overexcited high schooler made this for his school project, except had a much larger budget. At many points during the film I had a strong urge to just walk away from it or take out my phone. I actually found myself getting angry at the movie. As I said before, it's so stupid and phony. It's nothing like it should have been. Maybe if this had been made as a biopic with lots of talent attached, like The Aviator, it would've been better. This sorry excuse for a documentary disgraces the Salinger name. I know that sounds like a bit much, but this movie really bugged the hell out of me. It didn't inspire me or make me feel anything. Except for contempt. The only thing this film made me want to do was write an angry letter to Shane Salerno and reread Catcher in the Rye to try and forget this phony movie. Some people may like the documentary, I am not one of them. At the end of Salinger there's a long credits sequence which is basically a "subtle" commercial for some of Salinger's works that will be published soon. I get that these books are going to be famous and groundbreaking but please don't put a dumb message at the end of this dumb movie hitting you over the head with the notion that maybe you should read the books. J.D. Salinger would not approve. I saw a trailer for this movie a few weeks ago. It's already on Netflix. No wonder. This crappy doc should have never been released in the first place. I loved Catcher in the Rye. It's probably in my Top Five favorite books. This movie takes all the greatness of Salinger and his writings and does what never should have been done. Hollywood-ized it. I'll say it once and I'll say it again. This film is phony. I give Salinger 1.5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing (just not of this). You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!      

Thursday, November 7, 2013

#tbt Fargo review

Any movie in which a character gets fed to a wood chipper is bound to be worth a watch.
Fargo is about a regular guy named Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy). Jerry has money problems. So he does what any reasonable person would do, have his wife kidnapped for ransom money by two crooks (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare). Just a regular thing anyone would do. Except the cut-and-dry plan turns sour and Jerry get's thrown into a whole murderous mess he never wanted to be in. It doesn't help that Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a pregnant police officer, is very persistent on solving the case. Yeah, it's not looking too good for Mr. Lundegaard. So, as you may or may not know, I love Joel and Ethan Coen (aka The Coen Brothers). One of my favorite movies of all time is The Big Lebowski. I loved True Grit and A Serious Man. Raising Arizona and Burn After Reading were hilarious too. And I of course am looking forward to their newest film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Fargo is no exception. I loved it. It's not their best film (The Big Lebowski obviously takes that spot), but it comes close. The Coen's have a knack for making some dark situations very comedic. Like when they scatter the ashes in The Big Lebowski, or pretty much everything that happens in A Serious Man. Fargo is what you'd call a black comedy. It takes uncomfortable and sometimes very grisly situations and makes them bitingly funny. At one point Frances McDormand's character sees a bloody dead corpse and seems repulsed, but she simply regards it as "morning sickness". I found myself laughing at a lot of the nice dark humor here. It's really no wonder The Coen Bros. won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for this! The cast here certainly helps deliver some of the hilarity here. William H. Macy is pretty good here as the troubled family man caught up in the mess. He, like most of the cast, nails the Minnesota accent. Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi also give some nice performances as the idiotic criminals. Yet, all of their great performances seem like nothing compared to Frances McDormand's hilarious (and Oscar winning) cop. She does the best job in the entire film and gives some of the most memorable lines. Really what Fargo does so well is take some strange (and very cold) slice of the country, and present this great crime comedy that's done so well on so many levels. Even if you don't love the film, you cna at least appreciate how it's an example of damn good filmmaking. I feel like I definitely got something out of it. Fargo is the kind of movie I'd want to watch again. Just to get a fuller sense of the story and pick up all of the meaning. It's also just an enjoyable film that I'd enjoy viewing again. It's bloody, strange, dark, but overall, it is good! The tagline for Fargo is that "a lot can happen in the middle of nowhere". A lot did. And that's what makes this movie good. At times while watching it I questioned whether it was going to be good at all. By the end, al those doubts had been put to rest. I really liked Fargo. Happy Throwback Thursday and Happy Viewing guys! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Counselor review

Cormac McCarthy is one messed-up dude. Seriously.
I first saw the trailer for The Counselor at screening a few months ago. It seemed like the perfect film. A seemingly exciting thriller about drugs, girls, guns, and intrigue. With a terrific cast of such greats as Brad Pitt, Micheal Fassbender, and Javier Bardem. Written by Cormac McCarthy! Writer of No Country for Old Men (the book)! And best of all, directed by Ridley Scott. THE Ridley Scott. Director of Blade Runner and Gladiator. I honestly thought this was going to be one of the better films of the year. Then, when I saw some of the early reviews for The Counselor coming out. I was kind of bummed. The reviews were increasingly negative. With all the talent involved, how could this possibly be bad? Well for one, I don't think it is really bad. It's not overwhelmingly good, but it has some nice things about it and I think it's been generally misunderstood. First off, the plot. A successful lawyer known only as The Counselor (Micheal Fassbender), seems to have it all. An attractive wife, Laura (Penelope Cruz). Money. Nice cars. But things start to go south for him when he gets involved with a drug deal that goes very, very bad. So, I went in to The Counselor with generally low expectations because of what I'd seen in reviews. Yet, my love for Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy brought me to the theater to see the film. I was scared that the movie would be a black hole in movie history. An abundance of talent that collapsed under its own weight. Luckily for me, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe it was because I thought it was going to be so bad, but I kind of liked The Counselor. The reason I believe it seems to be almost universally hated is because everyone had such high expectations for it. Sure, Ridley Scott could have done better, but he's not always great. I think this was better than Black Hawk Down. Cormac McCarthy I think did a damn good job with the screenplay. I know a lot of people think differently, but it wasn't bad. His dialogue is very symbolic and poetic. It seems strange coming out of actual people. I think it would be better suited to a novel, but it kind of works here. The reason is because the world that Cormac created isn't a normal world. People talk differently. People act differently. Rules that apply in our world don't apply in his world. The world of The Counselor is this gritty and strange reality where everyone has a secret and no one can be trusted. It's truly pretty interested. Then again, I'm not saying The Counselor is so great. But I am saying it's very underrated. What I think people were expecting is a fast-paced bulletfest comparable to a more violent James Bond flick. What they got was a much more slower paced and dialogue driven thriller. I liked The Counselor more than I expected to. The performances were decent. Micheal Fassbender is constantly proving himself to be a capable and great actor. He just came off a great role in 12 Years a Slave, and now he was damn good in this. The rest of the cast is just alright. Good, but nothing special. Cameron Diaz plays this evil woman who seems to control everything. She's certainly trying, but I don't think she was all that good to begin with. Yet, Fassbender's performance is enough. Ridley Scott's direction is kind of weirdly slow and focuses more on the characters than usual. It's not his best job but it's more than just alright. The best part of the movie are the interesting neo-noir story that Cormac can do so well. Overall I was impressed compared to all the negative buzz that surrounded it. Some reviewers called it "a boring mess" and "an empty, nasty piece of work". I don't think it's deserving of all the hate. It could be better, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think it's safe to say I liked The Counselor. I didn't love it, but I did like it. This just goes to show you can't always listen to the critics. For example, last year's Lincoln got bombarded with praise and award nominations. Yet, I found it to be an incredibly boring film that boarded on painfully slow. Most critics seemed to hate this movie and yet I found it to be fairly well done. It's not for everyone, but I'd say it's worth a watch. I give The Counselor 3.4 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.        

#tbt Grindhouse review

Happy Throwback Thursday guys! Even though it's not Thursday.
 Sorry about that. Quentin Tarantino, weird as he can be, is one of my favorite directors. Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs... The list goes on. I pretty much love all of his movies. Back in 2007, Robert Rodriguez (a fellow director and Quentin's bud) and Tarantino himself decided to team up and make a double feature in the homage to those old poorly made exploitation pictures they all loved when they were a kid. The product was Grindhouse. Although I'm not old enough to have seen said exploitation flicks back in the 60's and 70's, I am old enough to enjoy the nice mixture of sheer insanity and genius that is Grindhouse. There are two full movies in the Grindhouse package. The first, Planet Terror, is a grossly over-the-top zombie film directed and written by Robert Rodriguez. It stars such big name actors as Josh Brolin and Bruce Willis, even Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas shows up for a short cameo (but I'm not sure how necessary that was). The plot of Planet Terror is that a scientist (Naveen Andrews, or as you may know him, Sayid from Lost) "accidentally" unleashes a gas turning people into bloodthirsty lunatics. So a loner, an ex-go go dancer, a bartender, and Josh Brolin's character's wife try and stay alive and find out what's happening. Next is Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, but in between the two is packed with a few fake trailers and commercials that are actually great. First is Machete, directed by Robert Rodriguez, which is less of a fake trailer because that actually turned into a real movie with the same plot line as the trailer promised. Then there's Werewolf Women of the SS. Which is as stupid and ridiculous as it sounds. But it does have a funny cameo from Nicholas Cage. Rob Zombie directed that one. After that was Don't, directed by the great Edgar Wright. That one was about some haunted house, but it was done in such a way I was cracking up throughout the entire trailer. Lastly was Eli Roth's slasher-parody, Thanksgiving. That one was almost as funny (and bloody) as the rest of the trailers. Honestly, even if you hated the two films in Grindhouse (which I did not) the trailers make the whole thing worthwhile. Finally, there is Death Proof. The plot of Death Proof is there's two groups of girls who are being stalked by psychopathic murderer, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russel) who kills with his 'death proof'car. After the sickeningly bloody Planet Terror, Death Proof was a nice break. It was violent, but it was much more dialogue-centric (as are most of Tarantino's movies). I enjoyed Death Proof a lot. It had some fun dialogue and characters, and it was more enjoyable in a sense than Planet Terror was. I didn't hate Planet Terror though. It had some strangely fun moments. Like for example, Rose McGowan's character has a machine gun for a leg that she uses to kill zombies. This is ridiculous, but it works for this movie. Rodriguez added in a lot more of the 'grindhouse' feel' to his film than Tarantino did. While Planet Terror constantly had the dirty cheap exploitation feeling to it, Death Proof used it a lot less. In Planet Terror Robert Rodriguez added in a "missing reel" to add to the feel. Tarantino did that too. Yet in Planet Terror, the reel was used to tie up loose ends and make the story easier for Rodriguez. While in Death Proof, the missing reel was added only for the feel, not as a plot device. It's obvious that Quentin Tarantino is more talented than Robert Rodriguez. Never the less, I still really enjoy most of Rodriguez's stuff. I liked Planet Terror, but Death Proof was just a bit better. Either way, the entire Grindhouse feature is a terrifically fun time that I would certainly watch again. So yeah, I recommend it! Happy Viewing guys. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!            

Sunday, October 27, 2013

12 Years a Slave review

This film is directed by Steve McQueen. The art house director, not "The King of Cool". Just wanted to clear that up.
I've heard a lot of people call 12 Years a Slave 'the best movie they never want to see again'. I couldn't disagree more. While 12 Years a Slave is a damn good film, I would love to see it again. Many people are saying how gruesome and visceral it is. It was hard to watch at parts, sure. Yet, I feel like multiple viewings would be helpful in getting a truly full experience from the movie. All the terrific performances and techniques the movie has are just too good not to see again. Some movies, like Lincoln for example, were very well done, yet so incredibly boring that I wouldn't want to sit through it again. 12 Years a Slave isn't boring. I know the reason people wouldn't want to see it again is because of how sad and violent it is. Even so, I'd still want to recreate the incredible experience it was to see this film again. The movie is really gritty and bloody. but that's how it should be. A movie about the horror's of slavery shouldn't be sugar coated and censored. Therefore the sheer bloodiness of the film is unfortunately necessary. I hope the academy doesn't snub McQueen with a Best Director nod like they did with Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino last year for the subject matter of their movies. 12 Years a Slave is well acted, directed, and shows an unbelievable true story for what it is: a tale of survival and horror. It's not Hollywood-ized or made into some heroic adventure tale. Yeah, it's heartbreaking and sometimes very painful to watch, but it works. I think it's safe to say 12 Years a Slave is one of the better films of the year. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a well-to-do free black man with a nice family living in Saratoga, New York. One day, he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. His past life is stripped away and everything that once mattered to him is seemingly forgotten. Even his name is changed. He is first a slave under the kind Master Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). Unfortunately, Ford's second in charge, named Tibeats (Paul Dano), is quite cruel and hates Solomon right away. A series of brutal events leads Solomon to serve under the crueler and angrier Master Edwin Epps (Micheal Fassbender). There, he is worked hard and beaten. Northup's will is put to the test. At Epps' plantation is where he spends most of his time in the film. Solomon's fantastic skill of playing the violin is of some help, but he is still targeted by Epps and his wife. Some of the most depressing and harsh moments take place in this point of the movie. As harsh as they were, they were necessary in making the movie as realistic and gritty as it is. I can't stress that enough. As I said before, the performances are terrific. The best being form Chiwetel Ejiofor and Micheal Fassbender. I feel like Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt could have given some truly memorable portrayals here, but they are only given a very small amount of screen time. I have no doubt whatsoever that Ejiofor will get a Best Actor nomination and I hope Fassbender will get a Supporting nod. The acting, while good, isn't the only good part of the film. McQueen does a great directing job here. Regretfully, I haven't seen Shame or Hunger (yet!) but I already know he will go on to be one of the great directors of our time. 12 Years a Slave is filmed with a certain character-based realism that almost made me believe I was there. At the end there's a close up shot of Ejiofor's face with the background blurred out. The rack-focus close up technique ,especially used with Chiwetel Ejiofor, just shows how worn out and weary the once free man was. It's powerful stuff. I was expecting 12 Years a Slave to be a pretentious over-hyped bore. It wasn't any of that. As much as I loved Prisoners, I think '12 Years' tops it as Best Movie of the Year So Far. Believe the hype. 12 Years a Slave is damn good. I give 12 Years a Slave 5 out of 5 stars. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

#tbt Natural Born Killers review

Sometimes when a man loves a woman very much they go on a cross country murder spree, killing anyone that irritates them in the slightest way. Wait, that's not right at all.
Way back in ol' 1994 filmmaker Oliver Stone made a little movie called Natural Born Killers. It's about two lovers named Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis). Both had very traumatic childhoods, and both have developed a certain bloodthirstiness that can only be satisfied by murder. They are quickly turned into stars, almost idols, by the media. Particularly Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.), who looks upon Mickey and Mallory as legends who can boost his ratings. The film documents their (fictional) crime spree through a very trippy directing job by Oliver Stone. Quentin Tarantino originally wrote the screenplay, but it was vastly changed by Stone, David Veloz, and Richard Rutowski. Thus Tarantino only got a story credit here. But a few of his trademarks are still present (i.e. it being very violent and a Mexican standoff being held towards the end). There was an outrage against the film for being way too violent when it came out. People said that it promoted violence. Yet, the movie actually does the opposite. If simply glance at the film, you would just see the violence and nothing past that. Yet, if you really watch it, you can see this is actually a pretty smart movie. Oliver Stone got a Golden Globe nod for Best Director here. I can see why. Natural Born Killers is a cinematic fever dream of an insane person. That's one reason that makes the film so damn cool! Certain scenes are shot in 35mm and Super 8, while others are given a strange grainy feel or put through a color filter. Not just the look of the movie is strange. There are some parts that feel as if it's all part of some bad drug trip or weird dream. At one point in the motel Mickey and Mallory are staying at, the images of the television are being projected onto the motel window. Another scene in the film is shot and edited as if it's a sitcom with a laugh track, while the scene is depicting Mallory's father abusing both her and her mother. It's strange, but it is effective in showing how Mallory's childhood was and it really solidifies the scene in your mind. You've got to hand it to Stone for really being creative with his direction here. Oliver Stone isn't generally known as an auteur director like say, Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino. Yet, this movie is perfect proof he could be. I am a pretty big Oliver Stone fan. I loved Born on the Fourth of July and JFK, and of course Platoon was great. Natural Born Killers may not be as good as those, but it comes close. Partially because of the direction, but also because of the acting. I really enjoy Juliette Lewis' acting. I think she is an underrated actress. She was terrific in Cape Fear and What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Personally, I think her performance here is her best yet. She plays Mallory with such a wicked fascination, she seems just to be a teenager who because of being all messed up as a kid, took her "rebellious' stage a bit too far. Woody Harrelson is great too. He's driven by his hatred but also by his love for Mallory. Harrelson portrays his character to near perfection. The best part of the film is how it shows how the killers became celebrities. Everyone knows that they're murderers, yet they think they are cool and the idolize them. At one point in the movie someone says, "If I could be a mass murderer, I'd be Mickey & Mallory!" It just shows how distorted these things can get. I personally think Natural Born Killers is an underrated classic. while it's not Oliver Stone's best, it's still pretty good. Happy Throwback Thursday and Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Escape Plan review

Aren't these guys a little old to be doing any of this? I'm surprised none of them stopped the movie to pop an arthritis pill.
Mikael Hafstrom has never made a good movie in his entire career. His newest film, Escape Plan, isn't good. But it's not bad either. Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) breaks out of prisons to see if they're 100% secure for a living. His newest assignment is an off-the-grid "unbreakable" prison code named, The Tomb. He's beaten, kidnapped, and thrown on a plane to this infamous super jail. It's obvious he was set up. So he quickly forms a friendship with Emil Rottmayer, (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and hatches an escape plan. Hence, the title of the movie.
When going to see Escape Plan, do not expect it to be a well written Oscar contender. Escape Plan isn't hiding what it really is. It's a no-holds-barred testosterone-fueled action flick. I mean any movie that boasts both Ahnuld and Rocky nowadays is probably going to be something like The Expendables 2. Even though I think Escape Plan is better than The Expendables 2, it's still incredibly dumb. Yet, it's also full of some really fun action. Then again, it's still a ridiculous movie. Nothing about this film makes a lot of sense, but the movie is honest about that. It's not hiding the fact that it's a brainless action blockbuster. It embraces the fact. Unlike say, Now You See Me which was trying to trick you into thinking it was a smart thriller when really it was a crappy action movie. That's the beauty of Escape Plan. Both you and the guys who made the movie know it's a "bad" movie, and that's what make sit so damn fun. Not everything is fun though. Sylvester Stallone is a very talented person. He wrote and starred in Rocky, and got two Oscar nods for that. Many people forget that he used to be a "good" actor. Hell, I thought his performance in First Blood was pretty good too. His performance (if that's what you want to call it) in Escape Plan is the equivalent of an emotionless boulder that punches people. Although I can't say I expected much considering what Stallone has been doing recently. Arnold on the other hand, completely hams it up here. Schwarzenegger is absolutely hilarious here. Yeah he kicks a lot of ass, but he also made me crack up. He was certainly the best part of the movie. At one point in the film Arnold Schwarzenegger has to smile. It is the single funniest facial expression I've ever seen. That smile made my day. I can't say the same for Stallone, unfortunately. The Italian Stallion's face is about as lively as a plank of wood the entire movie. Jim Caviezel has a role here as The Tomb's warden. He isn't great, but he plays it with a certain delicious villainy that's worthy of a Die Hard criminal. No acting awards here, but still not too bad. Escape Plan may be a mostly forgettable actioner. But it has a certain delightfulness and complication that makes this bullet-ridden movie so fun. I was actually thinking about seeing the Carrie remake instead if this. I'm glad I didn't. I figure I'd rather have fun at an exciting but stupid action movie than be pissed off at how the remake completely ruined the original. There are much better movies in theaters now that you should see before this like Prisoners and Captain Phillips, but if you wanna have fun killing two hours: Escape Plan is the movie to see. Just don't expect anything too philosophical and thought provoking. I give Escape Plan 3.4 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.          

Thursday, October 17, 2013

#tbt Shaun of the Dead review

Why can't The Walking Dead be more like this?
The Cornetto Trilogy are a series of three comedy films by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. They are all equally funny, entertaining, and to a certain extent, heartfelt. About two months ago the conclusion to the trilogy, The World's End, came out. It was a very good end to the series. But it all started back in 2004 with the "zom-com", Shaun of the Dead. Shaun of the Dead is about a man named Shaun (Simon Pegg) who takes his slacker roommate (Nick Frost), his ex-girlfriend (Kate Ashfield), her friends (Dylan Moran and Lucy Davis), and his mom (Penelope Wilton) and tries to survive the reanimation of the dead. With hilarious results. I have never seen anything like Shaun of the Dead. There's never been a better zombie movie. Shaun of the Dead is so much more than just a zombie movie, if you've seen it you'd know. This is the kind of movie you need to watch more than once. On first viewing it's a pretty funny zombie flick. After multiple viewings, you get some more of the jokes and you get a fuller appreciation of the film as a whole. You begin to see Edgar Wright's wonderful way of cutting scenes (which he re-used in Hot Fuzz, but less so in The World's End) and just how damn funny the movie is. I just saw it for my fourth time and don't regret a single viewing. It's actually an incredibly rich film, a lot of people haven't analyzed it as much as they should. Definitely the smartest horror movie ever made. The obvious strength of Shaun of the Dead is its humor. For some reason, Brits always seem a hell of a lot funnier than Americans. Maybe it's their accents. Maybe the British are just a more talented group of people. I don't know. What I do know, is that Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright wrote a very, very funny script for the move that's jam packed with lot's winks, nods, and references to other movies. There are certain movies, like The Big Lebowski and Pulp Fiction, that I can rewatch and rewatch without getting tired of them. This is one of those movies. After every viewing of Shaun of the Dead I get something new out of it. In fact, the last time I watched it was the best, simply because I got so many of the jokes and references and because I understood it so much more. There are some subtle gags that only a handful of people would get, and much broader and funnier stuff like Shaun and the gang beating up a zombie to Queen's Don't Stop Me Now. It's ludicrously funny stuff. Yet, as good as the script is, it'd all be for naught if not for some great comedic acting. Luckily, this movie has a fantastic ensemble of great British comedy actors. Nick Frost has appeared in all of the Cornetto films. He is most certainly hilarious here. Frost delivers some of the best lines in the movie. Simon Pegg of course is great as the title character. There's a reason he's gone on to so many movies after this like Mission Impossible and Star Trek. He's just really, really fun to watch. The rest of the cast is good too. Especially Bill Nighy in a small , but pivotal, role as Shaun's step dad. This movie is like a nice puzzle. Every aspect of it is a piece that without, would make it an unfinished puzzle, but with the pieces in their places: It's an undisputed masterpiece. Shaun of the Dead was the launching pad for this cast to move on to more things. Simon Pegg is a pretty big star now. Edgar Wright , along with directing the Cornetto trilogy, did Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and other projects. Nick Frost has more acting work now, He was in Snow White and the Huntsman, crappy as that was. Shaun of the Dead is an overall terrific film in many ways. If you haven't seen it, I advise you to do so. as you may have noticed, I'm doing a theme of horror movie Throwback Thursday reviews in spirit of Halloween. Last week I did The Evil Dead and next week I'm planning on doing The Cabin in the Woods. If you have any particular preferences, follow and message me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies. Thanks. Happy Viewing!        

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gravity review

Even in a while plummeting through space in the face of almost certain death while wearing a clunky astronaut suit, George Clooney still manages to be incredibly suave and confident.
So about a year ago I stumbled across this sci-fi film called Gravity in the 'Upcoming Releases' part of a movie website. It sounded very cool, yet there was little information about it. No posters or pictures , or even a synopsis. The release date was November 2012. I was very excited to see it. Come November, Gravity doesn't actually come out. It seems to have vanished from existence. I was quite confused, but I just got on with my life. Flash forward to May 2013. I'm at a showing of The Great Gatsby and there's a trailer shown for some cool space movie called, you guessed it, Gravity. My heart soars. The audience applauds. Tears are shed. Fade to black. Okay, it wasn't that dramatic, but you get the point. Anyway, I became very, very excited for the film. Around late August, reviews for Gravity started coming in. They were very good reviews. My excitement was solidified. Well, Gravity finally came out last week. I didn't get a chance to see it then. I got back from seeing it in 3D, and damn those reviews were right. Gravity is about two astronauts; Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) who get "lost in space" when satellite debris take out their entire control center. They then have to maneuver to the nearest space station and stay alive. There's been a lot of hype around Gravity. It seems like everyone on the internet is talking about it.  It has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes! The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull have a 98%! (Coincidentally, both those movies are starring Robert De Niro.) I was actually worried about it. I thought my expectations would be too high. Could it live up to the hype? Yes and no. Gravity is the most beautiful and visually striking movie I've seen all year. The movie starts out with one unbroken shot, a strange reminiscent  of Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick. That one shot was what sucked me in. I was hooked. Alfonso Cuaron is the director here. If he doesn't get an Oscar for this I don't know what the world will have come to. The direction here is like fluid, flowing across the vast and wonderful vacuum that it is outer space. Shot after shot, my breath was being taken away. Everything looks so real here. I could have sworn I was right up with Sandra Bullock, flying through space with her. This movie is so great because of the visuals. Cuaron directed the third Harry Potter flick and the apocalyptic P.D. James adaptation, Children of Men. Those were all good. Gravity though, may be his masterpiece. It's not a perfect film though. The characters are a bit flimsy and it sometimes feels off. But I forgive all of its minor issues for the sheer astounding beauty and awesomeness of it all. The acting is alright here. George Clooney is his usual cool self, nothing wrong with that. Nothing really special either. Sandra Bullock is decent. In the majority of the movie she's going through space screaming and being scared. But towards the end, she gets her chance to shine. I don't consider Bullock to be a fantastic actress. She isn't mind blowing here, but she's not bad either. Yet, the best part of Gravity is the fantastic visuals and direction. And yes, I would watch it again. I was wrestling with myself on what rating to give this. Then I thought, it kept my attention the whole time and truly blew me away. It was the maybe the best experience I've ever had at the movies! So in conclusion, I give Gravity 4.5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing guys! Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies!