Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: Prisoners

Copyright: Warner Bros.
A quiet, eerie sense follows the experience of watching Prisoners. This may seem perfectly natural, because this movie covers the topic of child abduction and violence that comes out of it. But, in spite of that, this uneasy feeling somehow lies in a deeper place, beyond the pain and anguish depicted by the main characters from two families, driven mad by the search for their missing daughters. This place transcends the circumstances and the current horrible times these families find themselves in and presents a form that is true to our natural state, cleared of all social bonds, where a father does everything imaginable to save his child.

It’s hard for me to decide who did a better job – Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled detective Loki or Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover, the father that refused to give. Instead, after his little girl Anna, alongside her friend Joy from a neighboring family  went missing one afternoon without a trace, Dover decides to choose more drastic measures. Only clue in the case is a worn down RV that was parked nearby – in a matter of hours, police find the vehicle and its driver, a man who apparently has an IQ of a 10-year-old and who tells the authorities nothing. Having no other options, the detectives release Alex. Keller, mad from grief and complacency, decides to do something about it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Mud

Copyright: Lionsgate
We I saw him in Bernie, I started having doubts about my belief that Matthew McConaughey was at best, a mediocre actor. After Mud, I’m sure I was wrong all along.

Warped in a growing up story, director’s Jeff Nichols new movie deals with change. A boy named Ellis lives on a boat house, and the Mississippi is the place where he plays and goofs around, but also works with his fisherman father. Their lifestyle isn’t compatible with the 21. century, and his mother is keen on change. Not far from his home, on a deserted river island, he and his friend Neckbone one day find a homeless man on the run from the law. His name is Mud, and he needs their help.

Interestingly, Mud isn’t a character that’s foreign to McConaughey – a good-looking but untidy wanderer, madly in love and deeply faithful to his own superstitions and beliefs. But this time, he builds Mud like a cake, layer upon layer of personality, where some of the information is provided by him, and the rest is gradually presented by the story. McConaughey plays Mud in a very distinct rhythm, making him both vulnerable and mysteriously protected from the usual emotions that, on the other hand, plague young Ellis.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review: This Is the End

Copyright: Columbia Pictures
End times meet imaginary Seth Rogan and his friends is one way to sum up the whole plot of this great comedy. As apocalypse sets on Los Angeles, a party at James Franco’s new house gets interrupted – most people flee, but Franco decides to stay and begs Rogan,who came with his Canadian buddy Jay Baruchel, to do the same. Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson are also there, and so is Danny McBride, who drunkenly sleeps through the initial fires and carnage. 

This Is the End play in the same league as the best films Rogan and Company worked on – it is stupid, original and refreshingly inoffensive, as the main topic covers the world of incredibly wealthy actors. Phony friendships, giant egos and widespread user mentality are just some of the hallmarks of their existence. Hardships of their new found survival isn’t easy on them, to say the least. In their circle, only Baruchel seems like he’s trying to act as a human being. The other range from pure evil or concealed malice to confused selfishness, and most of the action takes place between their conflicted perspectives on what to do next, although dilemmas include finding water and similar mundane problems, elevated by the apocalypse to a greater level. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: The East

Copyright: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Dumpster diving, train hopping, first aid that relies on superglue and home-made anesthetics. These are just some of the characteristic of the daily life of an imaginary group of underground activist called The East that live off the grid. One day Sarah, a young woman crosses their path by accident. Few days before that, Sarah left her boyfriend  and took a fake trip to Dubai, but instead went undercover as an agent for a private security firm. Her mission is to evaluate the group and figure out what exactly are they capable of, after an an incursion that left the insides of a mansion belonging to an oil company CEO covered in his product.

The East was distributed by Fox Searchlight, but is mostly the brain child of Brit Marling. Marlin is definitely an emerging writing voice in Hollywood, which can be seen by the cast she got for her new movie – directed by Zal Batmanglij, as her previous movie, but starring alongside herself, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Skarsgård. Mainstream is definitely taking notice of her talent, and the bigger budget she got wasn’t wasted on cheap tricks.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Trance

Copyright: Fox Searchlight Pictures
For the last two decades, Danny Boyle delivered interesting, intriguing and most importantly, untypical movies that are firmly and clearly set in one or another movie genre. This time around he delivered a compact psychological thriller that is, underneath the surface, a potent drama.

Trance has only one movie device: hypnosis. After a botched robbery of a Rembrandt painting, Elizabeth, a hypnotherapist gets an opportunity form a small criminal gang to use her skill to unlock memories in their inside man; his name is Simon, and he somehow, after getting hit in the head, managed to hide this incredibly valuable piece of art. Because of the concussion, his memory is gone, but Frank, the organizer of the robbery, believes Elizabeth can change that. Acting as an unwilling team, they have the task to find the missing painting.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: Now You See Me

Copyright: Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate
In this movie, Woody Harrelson’s character is a sly swindler that likes to wear small hats, while Jesse Eisenberg plays a anxious looking, smart and fast talking brilliant young man. Yes, you saw this before, and these people are here again, playing the same roles they played in many other films because the people who wrote Now You See Me were too lazy or uninterested in making anything that would in any way set apart this magicians-do-a-heist story from the run-of-the-mill Hollywood offering.

In this reverse Ocean’s Eleven, the public and the police force from both sides of the Atlantic are amazed and/or pissed off when a group of misfit stage performers (magicians, illusionist, hypnotist and so on) called The Four Horsemen actually steals a large sum of money from a French bank while performing a trick in Las Vegas. FBI agent Dylan Rhodes isn’t prepared to let this one slide, and becomes obsessed with the group. His only real aid is Thaddeus Bradley, a former illusionist that developed a TV show with the purpose of debunking magic tricks.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Review: Only God Forgives

Copyright: Radius-TWC
Independent artistic vision, no matter how convoluted or hermetic it may become, is a good thing in the movie industry. Nicolas Winding Refn is one of people that possesses this kind of vision, mainly because of his unique stance on filmmaking, especially the idea of linear storytelling. I respect his talent, but I don’t like all of his movies.

I enjoyed Valhalla Rising because of its depiction of human brutality in the context of nature that doesn’t care about humans any more than it cares about the trees and the rocks. His next movie Drive was a complete disappointment for me – unlike Valhalla Rising, this film was set in modern day Los Angeles, or in other words – reality.