Imitation Game (review)

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing  Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke  Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander Mark Strong as Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies Charles Dance as Cdr. Alastair Denniston Written by: Graham Moore  Directed by: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing
Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke
Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander
Mark Strong as Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies
Charles Dance as Cdr. Alastair Denniston
Written by: Graham Moore
Directed by: Morten Tyldum

 

Great Film about Unsung Hero!

The Enigma Machine was one of the most clever inventions in history. The Nazis used it to code their messages and for several years, it kept British intelligence dumbfounded. The Imitation Game was about the mathematician that cracked the code with a radical idea.  Alan Turing was the man who cracked the code but had a deep dark secret.  The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke, his fiancée.

imitation-game

Alan Turing is a brilliant mathematician but is reclusive, awkward, and overly confident. He is recruited by the Royal Navy to crack the Enigma Machine used by the Germans in World War 2.  The leader of the team is Hugh Alexander and wants to crack the code traditionally. The problem is the Enigma Machine every 24 hours changes its code; therefore, any progress made on the encoded messages is useless after midnight. Turing’s radical idea is to create a machine that can crack the code. He is met with resistance but convinces Wiston Churchill to pressure Commander in charge to make Turing in charge of the team. Turing recruits Joan Clarke to help build his machine. The pair succeeds but success comes with a heavy price.

Film/ The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly lead this all star cast. The Imitation Game has great acting. Cumberbatch and Knightly show a range of emotions throughout the film.  Turing’s homosexual nature is shown through flashbacks but Cumberbatch succeeds in portraying Turing’s cocky attitude and socially awkward nature.  He really deserved the Oscar nomination that he receive.  Knightly also really deserved her nomination too. Her character is met with resistance because she is smarter than most men. She is a pioneer in a “Man’s World.”  Many people forget that not only women in the United States helped win the war against the Nazis but many women from different countries had triumphs too.  The Imitation Game is one of the most well acted films in 2014.  However, it’s screenwriter deserved that Academy Award which he won.

Graham Moore’s screenplay was on the Hollywood blacklist for a few years.  Black Bear Production finally financed the film.  Graham wrote a screenplay that told a dramatic emotionally story. He was executive producer on the film. The Imitation Game told Turning’s story through three different time periods.  The film starts Turning being arrested for homosexual conduct. He precedes to tell his story to the police commissioner in charge. The film cuts back to 1939 when Turning is hired to help crack the Enigma code.  Turning’s childhood is also explored with his first semi-homosexual relationship with his best friend from boarding school. Graham Moore didn’t only explore the homosexual theme but how often socially awkward people are picked on and ridicule by others.

The Imitation Game gets 4.5 out 5 stars from me.

The Salvation (review)

the-salvation 1

Western with Great Action!

Do you like good old revenge westerns with a big gunfights through the movie then The Salvation is the perfect movie for you! The film is a Danish western. It was co-written and directed by Kristian Levring. He did a wonderful job of setting the mood and tone in this gritty westerner.   The cast:

Jon ,Danish Settler, works with his brother Peter to hunt and trap animals for a living. He has made enough money to bring his wife and son from Demark to America. On the way to his brother’s house, two criminals start to assault his wife in carriage and kick Jon out of a moving carriage  He follows the carriage’s trail discovers his son has died and along with his wife. He kills the two men and buries his family with the help from his brother.  The nearby town is protected by a outlaw gang leader named, Delarue, and seeks harsh punishments towards the town and its people because of his brother was killed by Jon.  The film catapults into a gritty revenge westerner with a lot of action, tension, and emotion.

the-salvation

The acting was the best part of the film. Mads Mikkelson plays a great vigilante that the audience can root for.  Jeffery Dean Morgan plays a great villain.  The two men carry the film along with Eva Green. Green’s character can’t speak and has been raped repeatedly throughout her life by Indians, Delarue’s brother, Delarue’s gang, and Delarue himself has taken advantage of her. Her story and character provides great twists and turns in this western thriller.  Mikkelson and Morgan really carry the film. Mikkelson is a silent killer while Morgan shows great joy in killing someone.

Kristian Levring directing Eva Green, Jeffery Dean Morgan, and Mads Mikkelsen

Kristian Levring directing Eva Green, Jeffery Dean Morgan, and Mads Mikkelsen

Kristian Levring deserves a ton of recongination too. The cinematography was great with the sounds of the setting, the smallness of a town in 1870, and the weather. One shootout scene was filmed in the rain and it was a dark and gritty setting. The tone remained the same through the film. It was a dark vengeful action westerner. The film was never meant to a fun western like Django Unchained or the Magificent Seven is. The tone felt like I could be watching a big screen adaption of Red Dead Redemption.

“The Salvation” is truly a throwback of one vs. an outlaw gang. I give it a 4 out of 5 for the tone, cinematography, action, acting, and plot.  The score was so cliché.

The Foxcatcher (review)

Foxcatcher:  Starring: Steve Carrel as John Du Point

Foxcatcher:
Starring: Steve Carrell as John Du Pont Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz Mark Ruffalo as Dave Schultz Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman Directed by Bennett Miller

A Tragic Wrestling Tale!

The Foxcatcher is a historical based crime drama about two Olympic gold wrestling brothers being driven apart by a patriotic multimillionaire. The three main actors are Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo.  The film is directed by academy nominated Bennett Miller who was nominated for Moneyball and directed Capote. The film was considered to be one of the best films at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Mark Schultz and John E. Du Pont posing at publicity shots for Team Foxcatcher.

Mark Schultz and John E. Du Pont posing at publicity shots for Team Foxcatcher.

Mark Schultz, Channing Tatum, is a Olympic gold wrestling champion from a small rural town iand feels constantly overshadowed by his older brother, Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) who is also an Olympic Champion. Mark is contacted by John E. du Pont, a wealthy philanthropist and wrestling enthusiast.  John wants to make wrestling America’s Olympic sport and use Mark as a symbol for patriotism. He also wants to be a father and mentor to his protégé. Mark jumps at the chance to represent team Foxcatcher, John’s private wrestling team.  As the film progresses John does lead Mark down a dangerous path but also career ending one. John has no choice but to turn to Dave Schultz. Dave accepts John’s offer but his decision proves to be fatal for his family.

Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum shine as team throughout the film.

Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum shine as team throughout the film.

Foxcatcher is about a film about two brothers who are absolutely loyal and supportive towards each other because Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo display that loyalty in every scene that they are in. Tatum and Ruffalo gave stellar acting performances and their acting makes my excitement even higher than what it was for their upcoming performances in future films.  The image above is from a scene where Tatum and his mentor John E. du Pont, Steve Carrell, come to Dave’s hotel room during the World Wrestling Championships. Dave is busy with his wife and two children, and Mark feels like Dave isn’t being supportive enough then leaves the hotel room furious. Dave stops him in the hallway, gives him tips, and shows him how to defeat his next opponent because Dave really does love his brother.  The movie is filled with that brotherly family dynamic and allowed the audience to be in the film along with the actors.  Ruffalo was nominated for best supporting actor. He will get an academy award one day because Ruffalo is a hell of an actor.  Channing Tatum is not some pretty boy but also great charismatic actor. He should have been nominated for best actor.

Director Bennett Miller  attending the Cannes premiere with Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo.

Director Bennett Miller attending the Cannes premiere with Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo.

Bennett Miller needs to be given a lot props for casting Steve Carell as John E. du Pont. His visual settings and tone were perfect, and he had a clear vision of the film’s story were perfect. He deserved that best directing nomination. Carell was amazing as John E. du Pont. Du Pont’s story was sad. At John’s core, he desperately seeks his mother’s approval.  He’s also batshit crazy with a lot of jealousy toward the relationship that Mark and Dave have. Bennett hit a homerun by choosing all three actors, and they together made Foxcatcher a tragic story.

Honestly, the film didn’t really have a lot of negatives. It was a compelling story that made the audience feel sad at the end. It probably deserved a best picture nomination, and Channing and Carrell will have career boost after more people see this film. Foxcatcher gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1 (review)

Hunger Games Mockingjay part 1

Is Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1 worth seeing?

The Hunger Games as a film franchise has delivered in entertainment and at the box office. The film franchise has made 1.8 billion.  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was an extreme success compared to its successor, The Hunger Games; however, the first part of the final trilogy does not deliver. The first two Hunger Games films had an intense pace but this film lacks intensity and action. It replaces these two components for dull meaningless love triangle and dull drama. The saving grace of the film is the acting and Donald Southerland as President Snow.
Mockingjay takes place right after Catching Fire ended. Katniss Everdeen is with the rebels and her lover or husband, Peeta, is in the capital. Katniss is reluctant to side with the rebels while Peeta becomes a spokesman for the capital and President Snow. Peeta urges the districts to end rebellion while Katniss is having PTSD.  Katniss makes a deal with President Coin who is in charge of the rebels that she will lead their rebel for exchange for Peeta getting a pardon from pro capital telecasts. President Coin is completely jealous of Katniss. The question of the film is; Can Katniss save Peeta from President Snow instead Can Katniss and the rebels end President Snow’s tyranny?
Mockjay fails because the story fails. This installment of the Hunger Games is boring and dull. It is super repetitive and lacks the intense action that made Hunger Games a great film franchise. The Mockingjay is 400 page book. The filmmakers decided to forgo of making a coherent film with action, romance, and battle scenes and replaced with a Nicholas Spark’s love story with Peeta, Katniss, and Gale for 2 hours. We couldn’t get a film with a good storyline in film trilogy.  Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is an example of this. They made a film that is choppy and focuses on to much of the Peeta, Katniss, and Gale love triangle. Katniss apparently goes through post traumatic stress syndrome and needs the first 45 minutes of the film to figure out if she wants be the Mockingjay. Honestly, the Mockingjay has never been full explained why it is symbol to the rebels. The acting of one man particularly does save casual film going audience’s interest to go see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.

Donald Southerland as President Snow

Donald Southerland as President Snow

Donald Southernland has given a pretty astounding acting performance that puts him into film history. His character, President Snow, is one of the most evil, manipulative, and sadistic characters to grace the film screen. His character is the human version of Lord Voldermort. Snow will bomb a hospital, set traps, blackmail citizens, and is power hungry. He will do anything to keep his position because he believes that he is doing the right thing. Southerland gives the character a sense of purpose and it brings his screen time to life. As an audience member, more screen time for President Snow is a great thing. He drives the story while the other heavy dramatic plot points drags the movie down.

Overall, Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 is a lackluster film. Fans of the book might love it but this critic would rather see the Spider-man stalk Gwen Stacey five straight times in the Amazing Spider-man 2 instead of ever watching this awful Nicholas Spark’s love story ever again. Sorry, the filmmakers decided to go for money and not making a film that could be as great installment to a film trilogy such as Lord of the Rings: Return of the King or Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1 gets a 2 out of 5. Hey, at least it is not Transformers 4.

John Wick (review)

Directed by: Chad Stahelski  Screenplay by: Derek Kolstad Starring:  Keanu Reeves[2] as John Wick Michael Nyqvist[3] as Viggo Tarasov,  Alfie Allen[3] as Iosef Tarasov,  Willem Dafoe[4] as Marcus

Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Screenplay by: Derek Kolstad
Starring:
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Michael Nyqvist as Viggo Tarasov
Alfie Allenas Iosef Tarasov,
Willem Dafoe as Marcus

Fun Indie Action Film

Keanu Reeves is popular with the cult film audience film. He starred in the Matrix trilogy, Johnny Memento, Point Break, and Speed. Keanu is considered an action star; however, the ladies remember him for A Walk in the Clouds.  His popularity has never died but his recent choices have been awful like 47 Ronin; however, this movie was pretty great. He could have a revival in his career.

John Wick is a retired mob hitman who suffered a tragedy. His wife died from a terminal illness and she was his world.  His wife left him a present which is a puppy Beagle.  John within a few days grows to really love his dog and decides to take him on a car ride. He is getting gas and a few Russian Mobsters want to buy his classic Ford Mustang from himHe declines their offer. They break into his house, beat him to hell, and kill his dog. Wick decides to straight seek revenge against the three man. The leader of the invaders is a son of a Russian Mobster and it becomes Wick vs. the might of the Russian Mob in New York.

Keanu Reeves as John Wick destroying the Russian Mob

Keanu Reeves as John Wick destroying the Russian Mob

Keanu Reeves is rather enjoyable in this film. He is still charismatic and fun. His character John Wick feels like a video game character. He kills people with perfect head shots.  The film had great emotional depth too. The movie started out with Wick dealing with the loss of his wife. Reeves makes you feel his pain when his dog is killed. The five people in the theater kept cheering him on every time he kills someone for revenge.

Chad Stahelski did a great job of directing this film. He told a story that made John Wick feel like revelant and human. The action scenes were directed in a great way. There is no shaky cam and the action clearly seen in every scene.  The fight scenes were really well done and the movie is overall is good. John Wick was made for 20 million and action scenes had a commercial action movie feel to it.

Overall, John Wick is pretty damn good. It is a solid action film and a good time to let your mind to relax for about an 1 hour and 45 minutes. John Wick gets a 4/5.

Birdman (review)

Birdman directed by Alejandro Iñárritu Starring:  Michael Keaton as Reagan Thompson  Zach Galifianakis as Jake Emma Stone as Sam Thomson Edward Norton as Mike Shiner

Birdman directed by Alejandro Iñárritu
Starring:
Michael Keaton as Reagan Thomson
Zach Galifianakis as Jake
Emma Stone as Sam Thomson
Edward Norton as Mike Shiner

What happens to the major Hollywood actors when they walk away from the big blockbusters? Birdman answers that question. Birdman is not only a film about superheroes but what happens to the Hollywood actor after their career stalls when they walk away from the big franchise.  Michael Keaton walked away from Batman 3 and his career has slowed down dramatically. He wasn’t in the public spot light until he was noticed again in Toy Story 3, the voice of The Ken Doll, and the Other Guys where he played a comedic police captain.

Keaton has had in a resurgence of popularity, and Birdman will revive his career.  Alejandro Iñárritu co-wrote and directed Birdman.

Reagan Thomson is at the end of his rope where he has no fame or fortune. He played a famous comic book character called Birdman but his career has hit rock bottom after he walked away from Birdman 4. Reagan in his last shot of glory is starring in a play that he wrote, directed, and starred in. His play becomes dysfunctional when he casts Mike Shiner, Edward Norton.  Reagan’s daughter, Sam, is a recovering drug addict. However, the problem with Reagan is that taunted by an inner voice. His character Birdman speaks to him frequently and tells him to return his role as Birdman in order to become famous and relevant again.

Birdman is the inner voice of Reagan Thomson

Birdman is the inner voice of Reagan Thomson

Michael Keaton is a genius. He will always be known for Batman, however; his role as the lead in Birdman is why he is great actor. Keaton had great charisma throughout the whole film.  He was a tortured individual at moment while being a deprive lunatic who believes Birdman is talking to him.   The conversations between Birdman and Reagan are hilarious because Reagan wants to known for acting while Birdman wants to make money. Reagan is person that wants to inspire people while Birdman is greedy and vain. The point of the conversations are that no matter real life actors do in their career that the general public will always associate them for their most famous role. Ben Affleck and Christian Bale will always be associated as Batman until the rest of their lives just like Michael Keaton is.

Edward Norton, Zack Galifianakis, and Emma Stone round out a solid cast.  Edward Norton’s character, Mike Shiner, is so delusional about his greatness. Mike constantly seeks the spotlight and it causes embarrassment to Reagan and his attempted comeback.  Norton could get an Oscar nomination.  Emma Stone might be the best lead actress in a film all year besides Rosemund Pike. She plays a daughter with daddy and self confidence issues. Stone draws your attention to her in every scene that she is in. Galifianakis is awesome stellar. He gives a dynamite performance and should be consider for a support acting nomination like Tyler Perry should be from his performance in Gone Girl. The only reason why I say this because that both actors are considered to be comedians and both did great jobs performing in a dramatic movie.

Alejandro Iñárritu co-wrote and directed Birdman.  Iñárritu should get a nomination for Best Director. The clip above is a taste what the movie offers. Iñárritu directed every action in this film to make it feel real. The audience connected with film because there was a lot of buzz about the acting after the movie ended. Birdman is also shot to look like it is a continuously take.  The camera follows a character continuously in one shot. The character could have a conversation with another character in a different room then the camera will follow that character until he interacts with another character.  Birdman is a wonderfully directed film.

Birdman has great acting, great tension, it is describes Hollywood accurately, and Iñárritu did a great job directing the film. It gets a 4.0/5  Birdman is not an anti superhero movie but more anti-conception on what makes people considered to be relevant.

Nightcrawler (review)

Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Riz Ahmed as Rick  Nightcrawler directed and written by Dan Gilroy

Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou
Riz Ahmed as Rick
Nightcrawler directed and written by Dan Gilroy

Have you ever walked out of a movie theater and thought to yourself that one actor in the film is poised to win Oscar Gold?  Jake Gyllenhaal’s role in Nightcrawler makes you have the feeling that he will.  Gyllenhaal carries the whole movie but not only because his main character is the focus.  The reason is because he delivers an intense exceptional acting performance that is gaining Oscar buzz from the movie critics.  Nightcrawler is directed and written by Dan Gilory which he could be nominated for best director and screenplay at Academy Awards.  Nightcrawler is his directorial debut.

Nightcrawler is about Louis “Lou” Bloom a young man trying to find his way in the world. He witnesses a camera crew filming a rescue by the police and discovers this camera crew is freelance. Joe Loder, Bill Paxton, is the head of the camera crew and describes his job to Lou.  Lou steals a bike and bargains it in a pawn shop for camcorder equipment to start his own freelance production company. He takes his first footage to Nia, Rene Russo, who is head a news station in LA.  Lou suddenly keeps reinventing his skills to make him the most successful freelance cameraman in LA with partner, Rick (Riz Ahmed).  Lou driven to succeed crosses that line of ethical journalism by illegal means.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou being unethical.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou being unethical and violating the law by moving a body in a DUI accident.

Nightcrawler is one of the best films of the year; however, this Jake Gyllenhaal’s film.  He lost twenty pounds for this role and showed why people want him to be in their movies.  Gyllenhaal is not one of my favorite actors but he is a great actor. His character, Lou, does everything unethical thing in the book. For example, he will move a body in a crime scene to get a better lighting shot to film in DUI. He is an intelligent character who never went to college but spends his free time researching everything. Lou spends several days learning the police code so he film the most horrific stuff like home robberies or murders throughout.  His has no empathy towards other people, pathological liar, or has no conscience.  Praise needs to be given to the director.

Dan Gilroy is the son of Frank Gilroy, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, and Dan’s brother Tony is a producer and his other brother John is a film editor.  Tony and John both worked on the film with Dan, and Tony helped produce the movie. Dan did not only do exceptional job at directing scenes that made Gyllenhaal an unethical little worm. He made an compelling two hour narrative that makes the audience continue to think about this film after they see it. The film club that brings independent to my area was talking about this movie after they saw it.  Gilroy’s storytelling is that great and will get nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay. His cinematography and visual shots of crime scenes and LA was excellent because the camera never shook except when Lou was starting out as a cameraman.  Gilroy did a wonderful job directing a pivotal car chase scene at the end of the film. It is a beautifully shot sequence of action and drama. Nightcrawler has an important theme to it which is contemporary journalism has become tainted.

Nightcrawler is about journalism and news headlines often mislead  the viewing audience all of the time.  The news station in night crawler uses headlines like “suburban crime hits again” and “the rich neighborhood terrorized by murder”. The sad part is blood and violence gain ratings while the government and other stories get pushed out in most local news cast. People sometimes wonder if the news stations want to keep fear going as diversion from what really happened. Nightcrawler tackles the unethical style of journalism that we have today in our national news networks.

Nightcralwer is a great film and gets 4.8 out of 5 from me. It would have been nice to see Bill Paxton have a little more screen time with Jake Gyllenhaal as rivals.  The Nightcrawler is below.