Life of Pi Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. There wasn’t an aspect, scene or decision in this movie I didn’t like. Literally, the music, acting, dialogue, visuals, writing, and story, this was a beautiful movie. And per usual, when I like a movie this much ill hush about what exactly I loved about it.

Let’s start with the performances. Both Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan play Pi masterfully. When the movie opens Khan’s acting conjures a Pi that is clearly wise and seasoned with life. He is brimming with knowledge and, from his portrayal alone, made me believe that his story was all that it was hyped up to be. And Sharma delivers that masterfully as the young Pi. He is innocent and ignorant before and immediately after the shipwreck, but through his journey we get to experience a young man spiritually grow and become a survivor. It’s is almost magical and I loved the character and portrayal of Pi.

The movie also has some serious spectacle. I know that the word spectacle can (and often does) relate to a movie’s over attention to visuals as opposed to story. However, the movie is allowed to be filled with spectacle because it is telling a spectacular story. Scenes like the ship sinking, the sundown refection on the water, and the jellyfish lighting the night, all are beautiful but serve a greater purpose. They visually illustrate the connection Pi makes between them and God. Whether they be storms of flying fish, each is a moment that would cement Pi’s faith, and in turn facilitate the story the movie is telling. And yeah, the movie is gorgeous, one of the most beautiful I’ve probably ever seen.

Following with the graphic and spectacle of the movie, the graphic design and GFX behind Richard Parker was phenomenal. Sure some scenes are clearly CG, but for the most part the tiger looks scarily real. I don’t know how long it took to make Richard Parker or all the research it took to make him look accurate, but regardless he was awesome to see. Also quick shout out agin to Sharma for having to act next to a fake tiger and make it convincing, kudos man.

Lastly, I love the way Pi approaches faith. I liked as a child how he would pick and choose aspect of different religions that brought him closer to his idea of God. It’s a curious take on faith, and one that I found extremely enlightened. To me, I sometimes we all pray and worship the same God. We just have different names for God and different ways of showing our faith. But the idea that it is all connected made me look deep down and reevaluate what I believe in, which is something I can’t say every movie can do.

This movie was incredible. I loved it and am planning the right time to watch it again. I give it 10 zoos out of 10 .


Road to Perdition Review

Sam Mendes’ crime drama has an interesting feel. It has a dated feel, not just because it’s a period piece but because it was made almost twenty years ago. Between baby Daniel Craig and not bald Stanley Tucci I was constantly aware of the datedness of the movie. All jokes aside the movie does have the feel of an early two thousands. That being said, there were plenty of things I found enjoyable in Road to Perdition

The thing I liked the most about the movie was weirdly, the audio. The machine guns and pistols have this violent feel and sound to them. When a gun goes off it is powerful, theres a sense of shock and awe to each shot that is fired off. That being said, the movie often utilizes character perspective and motivation to inform the sounds of the guns. A gun will be seen shot from outside a house of the sound will be drowned out due to a hesitance. The sound of the movie, in one word, is motivated. And it does well in facilitating the progression and the action of the movie.

The movie also has a great score. While the movie itself may be dated, the score is timeless. The music isn’t flashy or overly done. It compliments the many sequences of the movie yet consistently has a somber tone. It works hand in hand with the visuals and amplifies the solemn and earnest feeling of the movie.

The acting of the movie is very restrained. No one (besides Jude Law’s Maguire) is particularly flashy or over the top. Everyone’s acting, again, serves the tone of the movie. Everyone acts like they are from the 1930’s. They are stoic and unemotional, until they need to be. It’s a motivated choice and again, works well for the movie.

I liked this movie. It is a period piece through and through. Sure it feels dated but there are enough well done elements to stand the test of time. Not to mention every aspect of the movie works hand in hand to serve a specific tone. I give it 4 machine guns out of 7.

Pans Labyrinth Review

Man this movie is bonkers. From what I had heard and seen from it, I was convinced it was a fantasy that involved an epic journey a young girl takes involving a faun and a creepy child eating saggy monster. While there are aspects of those in the movie, there is so much more to Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy.

I have to commend del Toro and his creative vision. He not only created an entire fantasy world with its own lore, but was able to interweave the fantastical aspects with a family drama based in historical events. The latter being a completely unexpected aspect yet a welcome one. As writer, director, and co-producer, he has a large amount of creative control of the movie. His own twist on faries, fauns, and ogres set in the unforgiving time of the Spanish Civil War made for an incredibly dark yet gorgeous story. And under anyone else I don’t think this movie would work as well as it does. Under his vision the movie and its wild narrative are allowed to shine.

the last half an hour of the movie completely caught me off guard. I was expecting the faun and the various trials that Ofelia underwent to be a dream, or some sort of vision or whatever. But even after the credits began to role I found myself questioning the meaning or truth to it all. Personally, I believe the movie was making a point that even in a cruel world, one can chose to be good. Instead of fulfilling orders that lead to the blood of innocents, there is a choice and responsibility to disobey honorably, even at the risk of your own life.

While the captan and many other characters were unable to see the Faun, the root that was healing Ofelia’s mother was real. Yet even after Ofelia is greeted by her father and the faun after choosing to sacrifice herself rather than her brother, her mortal body died. Does that mean that it was all real, or only some aspects. Was her vision a vision of the afterlife, or did she actually return to the underworld? I feel these are questions that are purposefully left unanswered in order to illustrate some sort of moral or premise. Whatever it is though, I am unaware. My lack of understanding though wasn’t enough for me to not grasp the noble sacrifice that Ofelia underwent in order to do the right thing.

The visuals in this movie were crazy. The practical effects on the faun and the child eating skin thing were incredible. The faun in particular was so vivid and detailed, it blew my mind. He looked like a part of nature, something that had existed for thousands of years. David Martí and Montse Ribé did an amazing job designing it and deserve as much praise as del Toro in my eyes. However, the set design, the battle sequences, and the CGI are not anything to scoff at. They are all great in their own right and for the most part still hold up today. The only thing with the visuals I found unremarkable was the coloring. While scenes in the day were vivid and filled with color, the night scenes and rain scenes had this obnoxious blue tint to them that I felt made the movie drab and too dark. Aside from that though the movie is an absolute spectacle.

I really liked this movie. I thought it was crazy and creative and weird, but that is what I liked about it (and all or del Toro’s movies really). It is fairly well acted, it is visually stunning, and it is potent and heart wrenching. Not to mention dark and twisted in all the right way. I give it 3 faries out of 5.

One Night in Miami Review

I will admit, I went into this expecting an awful movie. I expected a boring and visually uninteresting movie that is overbearing and preachy. In my defense the trailer did little to douse those thoughts, as the trailer was boring and uninteresting. But about 20 minutes into One Night in Miami I realized, I was in for a treat.

First of all, this script is absolutely fantastic. This is the type of script writers dream of writing. It is funny, snarky, smart, and unapologetically real. While some moves lean into the spectacle of the medium, One Night in Miami embraces its more theatrical roots and grounds us. We really get a sense of who these men are, not just as the figures we know from their fame, but as individual people. We understand the turmoil Sam faces trying to spread a message while also having to pander. We understand the fear Cassius faces with his decision to convert to Islam. We understand Jim’s decision to try and find an alternative to destroying his body in the NFL. And we understand why Malcolm is fighting for what he believes in. It’s just a beautiful, powerful script.

The acting, oh my goodness. I loved the performances of every single person in this movie. There were two in particular however that stood out from the rest. Kingsley Ben-Adir did a fantastic job capturing the essence of Malcolm X, from the inflections to the stutters its almost the splitting image of Malcolm (at least from what I’ve seen). Another great performance was that of Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke. I never knew much about Sam Cooke besides a few of his songs. But Odom Jr. is able to capture both the larger than life presence of the singer and the more reserved and conflicted side he hides from his white audience.

Lastly, I thing the camera work goes a long way in this movie. It is a tall order making so few locations (and drab ones at that) visually appealing and interesting to the audience, but Regina King was clearly up for the challenge. The use of blocking, depth, and tracking were subtle. The visual style isn’t spectacle, its substance. It’s the type of work that is so good it DOESN’T draw attention. It is restrained to allow the performances and story to shine, and because of that, I consider it masterful

I fell in love with this movie. It is powerful, relevant, and an incredible display of what a script, good acting, and subtle camerawork can achieve. I give it 9 Hampton hotels out of 10.

Apollo 13 Review

Apollo 13 is the true story of the NASA mission to the moon of the same name. Before I start I feel I should say that I love history. I find it fascinating. You know the saying sometimes fact is stranger than fiction? Well, in the case of Apollo 13, that is true. The successful failure of Apollo 13 is simply incredible, and the movie’s greatest strength is its accuracy in depicting the events.

Following the logs of Jim Lovell, the movie does a really good job depicting the intricacies of what actually happened on the flight. Moments like the CO2 filter problem and the computer-less burn back to Earth are almost exactly as they happened in real life. But it’s not just the faithful telling of what happened. It’s all the little details that make the movie all the more immersive. The set, props, and sound design are all designed to be reminiscent of the 70’s era. Even the news clips are from broadcasts covering the voyage in real time. Truly the movie excels in entrenching the viewer into the story, and is a docu-film through and through

Speaking of immersive, the LEM and shuttle set is spectacular. Hanks, Bacon, and Paxton do an incredible making the tiny space one that is dynamic and never dull. They are all compelling and are able to move and talk like real astronauts. The cinematography is also very impressive and compliments the actors performances. Dean Cundy and Ron Howard use multiple lenses in order to make the space bigger and smaller as needed, and the claustrophobic space allows for great shots capturing the emotions of the astronauts. They also use reference points like the windows or the tunnel to familiarize us with the space of the shuttle. It helps the audience get a lay of the land and helps the audience understand the complications of space travel.

Lastly, I really enjoyed the way the movie was able to explain the actual science of the odyssey. Everything is explained in a way that allows us to understand problems none of us besides astronauts would know. It’s a great story choice to focus on the incredible technical leaps the people on Earth and in space had to figure out to bring the men back alive.

All in all, I really enjoyed Apollo 13’s faithful depictions of real life events. I had some issue with some of the more Hollywood aspects of the movie but, I still will give it 9 Apollos out of 13.

Chinatown Review

I’ve always liked noir movies. Something about the depressing atmosphere and intrigue that coincides with stories like these is just so entertaining to watch. Whether that be a traditional take on noir like The Maltese Falcon or an updated take like Basic Instinct, I like em all. And no surprise, I like Chinatown.

To start, Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes is an entertaining protagonist. Aside from his antiquated way of treating women (he didn’t need to keep slapping Evelyn) he is a fairly likable protagonist. As per the genre, he ins’t some badass. He’s very real in his handling of danger, most often losing fights or finding a way to escape them. That goes a long way in informing his character and the audience that he might be in over his head. He is slightly naive but isn’t some bumbling idiot. He has some talent, and where it shines is in his police work.

What I found most enjoyable about him though was the “charm” Nicholson brings in him. I think he does a great job at making him neither too relatable or likable. He’s a person who we as an audience isn’t supposed to necessarily love. he’s complicated and problematic, and it’s a role that’s perfect for Nicholson.

I also liked the Faye Dunaway’s Evelyn Mulwray. She is sneaking and not exactly forthcoming, but is a compelling character none the less. Behind her cool and steely demeanor though lies a tragic story. When it is revealed what Cross did to her, she changes. we get to learn like Gittes does what actually motivated her, which makes the ending all the more tragic.

I really enjoyed the unresolved ending. Emblematic of its genre, the ending is abrupt and doesn’t fix anything. Cross seemingly wins and takes kathrine, leaving Evelyn dead and Jake bewildered, just like the audience.

Roman Polanski’s last film in the U.S. is one filled with intrigue and suspense. it’s a neo-noir classic and deserves a place as one of the best in its respective genre.

1917 Review

1917 is incredible for so many reasons. It has a captivating story, It is superbly acted, and it is filmed to look like one (or two) continuous shot(s). That last aspect alone distinguishes it as a marvel of moviemaking. However, there is so much more the movie does well that deserves praise. It’s a special breed of movie that captures what exactly can be achieved with the medium. It’s simply well, incredible.

Allow me to gush over the single shot look. To start, this is no easy feat. The amount of coordination between grips, camera operators, technicians, set designers, and editors is something to marvel at. Sets had to be built and blocked to time specific actions the actors take. They also had to accommodate the camera, whether that be on a steady cam, a wire rig, a truck, or a crane. Often, the camera would have to switch between these seamlessly. All of it is meticulously crafted, and plenty of movie magic was needed to make it look so smooth. And smooth it is. The cuts, which believe it or not are there, are almost unrecognizable. It all meshes together in a way that entrenches us with these soldiers (no pun intended).

The story is griping. While the movie caps in at around two hours, it moves at a clip. The soldiers’ journey is fraught with peril, and when it needs to be suspenseful, it is. The fact that there are no cuts allows the story to unfold in real time. We don’t jump around, we move with the men and are restricted to only what they experience. Our narrative knowledge is limited to theirs, making for a hectic viewing experience. At one point, my girlfriend literally said “this is like, real life” which to me is the best compliment you can give this movie.

While it can be a bombastic movie, there are also times that are emotionally resonant. There are moments of tragedy, loss, reflection, hope, the whole spectrum. The movie does the action well, but it really shines in the moments guns aren’t going off. The beauty and the tragedy of WWI is fully on display, and it makes for a move that is deeper than your average war movie.

1917 is fantastic. It delivers an experience that truly places the viewer in its years namesake. It is a one of a kind movie and is without a doubt one of the best war moviesI’ve ever seen. I give it 8 artillery shells out of 10.

Nomadland Review

Nomadland is remarkable for a myriad of reasons. It is beautifully acted, specifically Francis McDormand and David Strathairn. McDormand brings a wonderful energy that feels so genuine. Her pain, loss, and joy are all palpable throughout, which makes for an unforgettable performance. Fern has so much positivity despite what she has seen and been through. She reminded me of my own mother, the optimist forever who isn’t afraid to let out a swear or two when the time is right.

The cinematography and color palette/tone are captivating. The washed hues offer a much more human look at the world, and while I may prefer a more saturated color palette, the color tone in Nomadland fits the down to earth feel. The choice of lenses and camera placement feed into this feeling, with medium and medium close ups dominating a majority of the film. The wide shots we do find in Nomadland are all beautiful and more often than not give us a look at how beautiful the badlands can be. But where the movie shines is in the tight shots where we can really connect with Fern and the people around her. It is incredibly touching, and that’s probably the best I can put it.

There is also something to be said about the creation of Nomadland. While it is based on a novel, the movie itself is is written, produced, directed, and edited by Chloé Zhao. That is an incredible feat and one worth praising. However, with that practically unlimited creative freedom I think some “oversight” (in my own eyes) was taken.

What I mean by that is there are certain issues I had with the movies I found glaring. The biggest being the pacing. The movie is a slow burn, despite being under two hours. This is due to the fact that so much of this movie is filled with what I would call aimlessness. There are beautiful scenes of zoos and oceans and desserts and whatnot, but there is barely any narrative flow. I was almost halfway through the movie when it dawned on me that nothing really had happened yet. We really just follow certain moments that very faintly connect to one another to what I considered an underwhelming ending. There was no tension, no clear end goal, or steady pacing. There was however, plenty of wandering.

And perhaps that’s the point. There isn’t supposed to be a grand journey with a clear end in sight. If life is cyclical and without finality like the movie presents, then it would make sense to “structure” the movie like this. However, I found it only made for, a somewhat boring movie.

Nomadland is humbly shot, acted, and written. It’s on of the most “human” movies I have ever seen. It can be uplifting and a sucker punch to the gut all at the same time, which not many movies can pull off. However, it can feel aimless and stale after a while, and while I enjoyed it, I have no intention of sitting through it again. Maybe I need to grow up, or perhaps the internet has ruined me and my attention span. Nevertheless, I would recommend Nomadland to anyone in need of a touching film, and I give it 6 out of 10 vans.

The Trip To Bountiful (1986) Review

I feel like things move so fast now a-days. I understand we live in a society that eats and breathes media, and that means we consume and consume before we have time to fully digest. This feeling of whirlwind anxiety, or more accurately constant stimulus, is something I don’t necessarily hate. I like being able to use the internet and watch billion dollar blockbusters monthly. However, I do at times wish I lived in a more “quiet” world.

Where am I going with this? Well, The Trip To Bountiful is clearly from a different time. But I mean that in the best way possible. It slow and methodical and demands the full attention of the audience. It’s the exact opposite of what mainstream cinema has become, but reminds me of what a slow burn movie can do to the soul.

Mrs. Watts’ plight is understated and melodramatic. The trip’s moments of suspense deal with inconveniences rather than world altering action set pieces. Her villains are time and a daughter in law, not some scheming alien and his other worldly armies. And that is what I love about this movie.

Mrs. Watts trip isn’t exciting, but it is revealing. For the first half of the movie we delight in the quirky and cheerful adventure of Mrs. Watts. And while that is fun (if not a little heart-wrenching), things change after arriving at the final bus stop. Even after forgetting her purse and hearing of her friends passing she remains steadfast in her resolve and confidence. however, after the sheriff arrives she breaks down at the news she won’t make it to Bountiful. That, in my eyes, is when the message (or the message I gathered) begins to show itself.

Life moves forward continuously. Eventually, like Bountiful, our memories or Mrs. Watts, things become dilapidated and forgotten. However, there is hope in that because that isn’t the end. We were able to be a part of something, and while we move on, we at least were able to let that something effect us. and, like the lands of Bountiful, there is the possibility that something new can begin there, and that can touch someone else. All we can do is reconcile with that and appreciate our time we have.

Get Out Review

Jordan Peele’s Get Out is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in recent years. It’s incredibly written and has some fantastic cinematography. Not to mention it has great performances from daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Kener, and Lil Rel Howery. however these are things that you already know. The movie is almost five years old and received plenty of praise. I’m sure I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said by someone more intelligent than me. However I did find certain aspects of the movie so enjoyable I felt I needed to give the movie my belated and personal praise

First I wanted to share my thoughts on how well the movie builds suspense. Jordan Peele perfectly balances the way information is delivered to the audience. Enough is revealed to the viewer to give them a sense of unease. Yet not enough information is revealed to the viewer (and Chris) until it’s too late.

The very casual racism, micro aggressions, and odd behavior by the Amitages is unfortunately expected by the audience. However, the peculiar behavior from Georgina, Walter, and later Logan tells us clearly something is wrong here. They act, as Chris says, “like they missed the movement.” They clearly aren’t right, and the fact that we (and Chris) don’t know exactly what is happening is, in my opinion, more frightening than any jump scare.

Other moments like this include the way the party goers acted, especially Logan. Between his odd speech and mannerisms he clearly isn’t normal. And after his “seizure” he has effectively scared us and Chris, yet we and Chris don’t exactly know why. I could list other moments, like the first instance of hypnosis(which I’ll get to) or the auction crosscut with Chris telling Rose about his mother But you get the point. Peele’s tight script gradually lowers you into the horrible truth, and once you are able to connect the pieces, it’s too late.

Secondly, I wanted to talk about the horror setting, if you will. Get Out does something that i think is pretty cool when it come to the setting. Horror movie are typically shot in places that frighten people. Whether it be a haunted house, a spooky forest, or an elaborate murder maze, horror movies tend to be set in an environment that is scary. However Get Out takes place at a beautiful home. The movie opens in a lavish suburb.

These places aren’t supposed to be frightening, or at least, frightening to white people. To a black person, I imagine a suburb filled with middle aged to old white people can be scary. To a black person, I imagine a house in the middle of the woods filled with out of touch white people can be opposing.

Get Out takes place in an environment that maybe I, as a white man, wouldn’t find particularly off putting. However, to a black person, these places are alien and hostile even. They represent an aspect of society that is unfamiliar to them, and unfamiliarity often creates fear

Third, I wanted to give my praise to the look in Get Out. I hate to admit I’m not too familiar with the technical jargon of filmmaking. But there were some absolutely beautiful sequences that demand admiration. Like the opening tracking shot that doesn’t cut until credits begin. Or the dollie zoom when Walter sprints toward Chris. These are all great, but the most fantastic of all of these are the sequences in the sunken place. I don’t know how they filmed these sections but they are incredible. The slow falling into abyssal nothingness with only faint burbling is terrifying. And the view into the shrinking world is the scary cherry on the cake. I know it is metaphor, but metaphorical meaning aside, it is a beautiful looking and sounding sequence.

Lastly, I thought Rod was a nice humorous touch. I don’t think the movie necessarily called for comedic relief, but Rod perfectly defuses enough tension to keep the movie moving. His humor also serves a greater purpose than just comedy. He, in a very casual and funny way, discovers the truth of the Armitage family. And because of his “TSA training” he finds Chris on his own. Like a badass.

Ok I’m running out of steam so I’ll leave it at this. Get Out is a game changing horror film. Not only in its technical making, but in its brilliant story. I’d give it 7 tea cups out of 8 tea cups.