Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Movie Review: "Lawless"

John Hillcoat's film, Lawless, is a one of a kind gangster flick.  Rather than being about gangsters in the big city, it follows three brothers who run a moonshine operation during Prohibition in rural Virginia, attracting the attention of the new, hard-nosed deputy looking to crack down on moonshine.  This film's not so much an action movie, but it's more a film about a young man trying to prove himself, as the youngest brother, Jack, played by Shia LaBeouf, dreams of being a big-time gangster and being worthy of his family name.  Featuring a magnificent performance by Tom Hardy as the oldest brother, Forrest, and a nasty Guy Pearce as the villainous deputy from the big city, the film manages to carry along, even in its slow paces, thanks to the charismatic portrayals from the likes of Hardy, Pearce, and LaBeouf.  While the gunfight finale is anti-climactic, the film's a strong character piece with a surprisingly happy ending.

I give Lawless a B+

Friday, August 24, 2012

Movie Review: "Premium Rush"

In Premium Rush, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an uber-cool bike messenger in New York City, who lives life on the edge.  No brakes on his bike, no gears, he just lives his life as fast and as extreme as possible, which comes in real handy when he picks up a package that sends a corrupt detective on his trail, trying to kill him.  Premium Rush doesn't feature all that original of a story, and it drags in the moments where it tries to flesh out its cliched characters, but where the film really excels is in showing the world of bike messengers in the Big Apple and the fast speed bike chases through the most crowded city on Earth.  There is an adrenaline rush that one gets from watching this film that no other film can quite give you.  There is a genuine sense of speed that director David Koepp brings to the visuals of the film and through the editing, and it makes you really feel the speed and danger that these cyclists experience everyday.  So what if the story is fairly run-of-the-mill, the film itself is lightning fast when the characters get on their bikes and it's so much fun to watch.

I give Premium Rush a B

Friday, August 17, 2012

Movie Review: "The Expendables 2"

With The Expendables 2, it's exactly what you'd expect it to be.  It's Sylvester Stallone onscreen with Arnold Schwarzenagger, Bruce Willis, and Chuck Norris, all kicking butt and taking names as this gang of guns-for-hire work to bring down an evil madman, played by Jean Claude Van Damme.  There isn't any real depth to this movie.  It's wall to wall action with tons of explosions, dismemberment, and over-the-top jokes.  If you come into this film just looking to have a good time and to be thrown back to the 1990s for an hour and forty minutes, then you'll enjoy The Expendables 2, but don't expect much more than that.

I give The Expendables 2 a B-

Movie Review: "Paranorman"

Paranorman, the new stop motion animated film from Laika Studios is an intriguing idea for a film that always falls just shy of its premise thanks to a lackluster script and some occasionally jerky animation.  The film follows Norman, a lonely boy who can see and talk to ghosts.  When a Witch's Curse from back in the Puritan days brings zombies back to life roaming Norman's town, it's up to Norman to save the day.  The best parts of the film are the jokes making stabs at classic horror film cliches, such as the zombies being afraid of the humans trying to kill them, rather than the other way around.  As well, the examination of bullying and its effects on children is handled fairly well through Norman's journey in the film, but where the film falls short is in all of the two-dimensional characters that surround Norman.  All of the characters that surround Norman are Hollywood movie cliches, the jock, the bully, the dumb girl, etc.  Then, add on to the fact that the animation of the characters is often jerky, looking as if the animators forgot to animate a few key frames, which in stop motion animation can be headache inducing, and you have a so-so film.

I give Paranorman an F

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Movie Review: "The Odd Life of Timothy Green"

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a heartwarming tall tale that requires some suspension of disbelief, and a firm understanding that in movies, things don't always have to make logical sense. 

Jim and Cindy Green are a young married couple who learn that they can't have children.  One night, they write down all the things that they would want their child to be, and bury them in a box in the garden, when a freak rain storm comes and a child grows out of the ground, named Timothy, harboring all the traits that they wished for in a kid.  There's just two other things to know about Timothy, one, he is the most optimistic person you'll ever meet, and two, he has a bunch of leaves growing from his ankles.  If you're able to buy into this concept, then you will thoroughly enjoy what follows.  This is one of those films that if you think too hard about things such as child services and whatnot, you wont receive the real message of this film, and it's about understanding the precious little things in life, no matter how shortly we may have them. 

I absolutely loved this film.  I loved the concept, and the execution.  It reminded me of a Frank Capra-fairy tale.  A film that is about the good of humanity, yet it doesn't sugar coat it.  There are ups-and-downs in life, not everything is always peachy, and writer/director Peter Hedges manages to illustrate that with poetic beauty. 

Bottom line, the acting is marvelous, especially from CJ Adams, with the right mixture of wisdom and boyish enthusiasm as Timothy, and the cinematography from John Toll captures the colors of Fall through his lens in almost each and every shot.  Not to mention, this is just a film unlike any you'll ever see, and for that it's worth seeing.  It isn't for everyone, but I absolutely loved it.

I give The Odd Life of Timothy Green an A+

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The 100 Greatest Films of All-Time

Every single time another Greatest Films of All-Time list comes out everyone on the internet sees fit to create their own list.  Why is this?  Because what may have been found as the general consensus Greatest Films of All-Time amongst a bunch of critics or industry folk, are not everyone's opinion as to what the Greatest Films of All-Time are.

Each person has a different Greatest Films of All-Time list, while there may be certain films that are more prone to finding their ways onto filmgoers' lists, there is no steadfast Greatest Films of All-Time list because what truly are the Greatest Films of All-Time is up to you, and it's up to me.  What I think are the Greatest Films of All-Time aren't what anyone reading this will think, but since I love lists, and I'm feeling the fever that every other person on the internet is feeling -- since the every 10-year Sight & Sound list sent everyone into a frenzy -- I've decided to compile my own Greatest Films of All-Time list, and I've decided to go further than I've ever gone with a list before -- the Top 100!

This list induced many headaches, but was worth it.  Now, to clarify, whenever I do such lists, I always refrain from including any movie that came out within the past year, seeing as how the movie is too new for me to know where it really stands.  As well, I don't give rankings away based upon innovation or how important a film was to movie history, I place each movie honestly, based upon how I feel about it.  From beholden childhood favorites, to awesome blockbusters, to recently discovered timeless classics, all the way to some foreign flicks that are worth seeing for their visual mastery. My hope is that if you're reading this, that you will see some movies on this list that you might have never heard of before and that you decide to look them up on the internet and even wind up buying them or watching them on Netflix.  Every movie on this list is worth it, and to preface, I am a huge sci-fi/fantasy/superhero nut, so don't be surprised by their domination.  So with that said, here are what I believe to be the 100 Greatest Films of All-Time!

100.  Remember the Titans
99.  The Three Amigos
98.  War of the Worlds (2005)
97.  Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl
96.  King Kong (2005)
95.  Casino Royale
94.  The Thin Man
93.  Star Wars - Episode I:  The Phantom Menace
92.  Jungle 2 Jungle
91.  The Fountain

90.  Flipped
89.  Batman Forever
88.  Ponyo
87.  The Santa Clause
86.  Newsies
85.  Ferris Bueller's Day Off
84.  Home Alone
83.  Bonnie & Clyde
82.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
81.  12 Angry Men

80.  Rashomon
79.  A Night at the Opera
78.  Lifeboat
77.  High Noon
76.  Stranger Than Fiction
75.  On the Waterfront
74.  Inception
73.  Sunset Boulevard
72.  Avatar
71.  Saving Private Ryan

70.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
69.  Superman II
68.  That Thing You Do!
67.  The Grapes of Wrath
66.  Spider-Man 2
65.  Terminator 2:  Judgment Day
64.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
63.  Patriot Games
62.  The Departed
61.  Empire of the Sun

60.  Slumdog Millionaire
59.  Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
58.  North by Northwest
57.  Catch Me If You Can
56.  The Prestige
55.  The Matrix
54.  The Usual Suspects
53.  X-2:  X-Men United
52.  The Hidden Fortress
51.  Whisper of the Heart

50.  Lost Horizon
49.  Batman (1989)
48.  Johnny English
47.  (500) Days of Summer
46.  Roman Holiday
45.  Secondhand Lions
44.  Air Force One
43.  The Dark Knight
42.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
41.  Superman:  The Movie

40.  American Graffiti
39.  It's a Wonderful Life
38.  Departures
37.  Notorious
36.  Spider-Man
35.  Seven Samurai
34.  Harvey
33.  Redbeard
32.  The Incredibles
31.  The Apartment

30.  Hot Fuzz
29.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind
28.  The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King
27.  Batman:  Mask of the Phantasm
26.  Psycho (1960)
25.  Spirited Away
24.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
23.  The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers
22.  Singin' in the Rain
21.  One Wonderful Sunday

20.  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
19.  My Neighbor Totoro
18.  Back to the Future
17.  Princess Mononoke
16.  Rear Window
15.  Jaws
14.  The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring
13.  Casablanca
12.  Arsenic & Old Lace
11.  Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

10.  Batman Begins
9.  Howl's Moving Castle
8.  Raiders of the Lost Ark
7.  Jurassic Park
6.  Star Wars
5.  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
4.  E.T.:  The Extra-Terrestrial
3.  Return of the Jedi
2.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1.  The Empire Strikes Back

Friday, August 10, 2012

Movie Review: "The Bourne Legacy"

Before seeing The Bourne Legacy, I had never before seen any of the previous Bourne films, but upon seeing this spin-off, I am definitely willing to give them a shot.

In the film, actor Jeremy Renner portrays Aaron Cross, a government agent who has enhanced brain functioning and physical attributes thanks to an experimental drug program, funded by the government.  When a fellow agent named Jason Bourne (who is never actually in the film), threatens to expose a similar government operation, the government shuts down Aaron's division and kill all agents, save for Aaron, who goes on the run, purely looking to survive.

The Bourne Legacy is a taut cat-and-mouse thriller, with some of the finest stunts work you'll see in a film this year, with majority of the action sequences created in camera.  Jeremy Renner once more proves he is a more than capable action movie star after his brilliant turns in Mission Impossible:  Ghost Protocol and The Avengers, this time proving he can carry a film all on his own, and he really should be doing more things like this, because he could be the next great action movie box office draw.  Not to mention, the film just has more brains than almost any other action flick out there.  You have to constantly be thinking to keep up with Tony Gilroy's script, that never spells anything out for you.  You have to piece everything together on your own, but by doing so, you feel as if you're participating in the game of cat-and-mouse, constantly keeping you on your toes and anticipating what's next.  The only flaw is the film is slow to start.  It takes nearly thirty minutes for the film to really kick into high gear and draw you in, but once you are hooked, you can't take your eyes off the screen.

I give The Bourne Legacy an A-