In Fear

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7/10

In Fear grips like a full speed thrill ride even as the tension threatens to spin out of control. I was curious to check out this film if only for the 100% rating it currently has on Rotten Tomatoes, and it didn’t disappoint…….completely. This film is the happiest i have been with an original thriller in a good couple of years. It stars two young adults who have only known each other a couple weeks and are on their way to a festival when they decide to get a hotel room for the night. Just miles from the hotel, they encounter a maze on the way to getting there. They take different ways at different times to get there but end up at the same place they started. I really enjoyed some of the chilling themes of this movie like being stuck in isolation in the woods. Make no mistake, setting is VERY important in a film like this. It’s obvious that not a lot of money was involved in making this picture, so you have to hit the audience with ideas that can make the experience memorable. Alice Englert stars as female lead Lucy. It is in Lucy that we feel her pain as being stuck in the woods with someone she doesn’t fully know or understand. When you really think about it, that can be frightening for anyone. The sound editing/mixing is also something that should be complimented in this film. The suspenseful score starts the engine, but it is the amplified sound that compliment the high speed chases the most. I felt like i was getting the most i possibly could out of a movie with three characters and a car. The last British thriller that i saw was The Descent films, and i think this movie is sooooo much better than those. As the film’s 85 minute run time goes on, it is the darkness that plays the biggest role. Our characters sense a feel of panic and time running out with a car’s gas tank. It’s those little things that sneak up to the audience and hit you hard when you realize what is coming. The only problems i had with the film were a couple of the things the couple encounter during the movie. (Minor spoiler) With only one villain, it’s hard to imagine how all of this stuff was accomplished. I also felt the ending wasn’t entirely satisfying. It did give me a sense of pleasure, but not worth what these characters entailed. Overall, In Fear is a straight to DVD film (March 11th) that is definitely worth a look. If you like 80’s style suspense that is almost complimentary to the John Carpenter feel, this is a good film for you. I don’t know if today’s audience will be completely satisfied with the film, but it will be refreshing compared to today’s standards of shot on video (Or shot on shitteo, as i refer to them) films that are plaguing the genre.

Dom Hemingway

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5/10

Jude Law stars in the role he was born to play. He plays Dom Hemingway, a mob worker who is jailed for 12 years after taking the rep for a drug deal gone wrong. While in prison, he abandons his daughter and wife, the ladder dies from cancer. When he gets out, it’s about a man on the verge of redemption. Law is absolutely amazing as Hemingway. He plays him as a loser who is always looking for the easy way out, but we cheer for him during all 90 minutes of this movie. Dom is an alcoholic, a womanizer, and a guy who has clearly not learned a lot from the 12 years he lost. He picks right up with a drunken three way with two prostitutes paid for by his mob boss. Law is very fast talking with brash English cursing to everyone he ever comes across. It is a role that is easy to like even with his flaws. The movie doesn’t do much beyond that to keep the attention of it’s audience. The film suffers greatly whenever Law isn’t on screen because everyone else is boring compared to our protagonist. The film does have some well shot scenes, but it almost feels like they don’t go on long enough for us to get the background of these other characters. The relationship between Dom and his daughter is presented, but we don’t have a heart to heart between them until the final 10 minutes. By then it is too late to ever get any clarity from this relationship, and that is a shame. This is the biggest probelem with this film; it goes nowhere. The main character really is no better by the end of the film because he is riddled in one bad luck scenario after another. Overall, i wish the film was more along the spark that it kicked off with in the first 20 minutes. It is there that we see so much promise for the journey ahead. By the 87th minute, Dom feels so defeated that there is nothing to look forward to at that point. If you see the trailer and feel like you really have to see this film, get it on DVD. It will be hard to find in theaters in a couple weeks, and i certainly don’t think it’s worth the journey to find it.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

 

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6/10

Ben Stiller is back in a film that is a little different than the films he has been known for over the last decade. He stars as Walter Mitty, a man who daydreams his life away while publishing photos for Life Magazine. The crew at Life are told that this will be the last issue ever published with most of the people losing their jobs. Some of the things i liked about this film was the amazing scenery and beautiful cinematography. It sets epic stages for Mitty to reclaim his life and go on the adventure of a lifetime. The Secret Life also gives us some awkward characters in the form of strangers he meets along the way. It’s sad that in these strangers we find that we care about them more than our two leads (Stiller and Kristen Wiig). Stiller and Wiig are very awkward in their form of conversation. It’s almost like two robots who have never met are talking for the first time. When we find out they have known each other for a couple months, it seems even weirder that they have such a problem being personable. Adam Scott gives another great performance as the villain of the film. Scott has been known to be very famous in these roles including a great performance in Step Brothers. The film runs out of miles in the main base scenes while Stiller is working at Life and at home. It’s kind of symbolic to the way this film goes. It’s only interesting when he is climbing mountains in the Himalayas or playing soccer in Afghanistan. The daydreaming also gets old by about the 3rd of 4th time it’s done. We see how predictable it is to tell the difference, and can see the joke coming from a mile away. Films like A Nightmare on Elm Street have always been great at producing a believable dream scene. I appreciate the explanation of why Stiller has less and less dream scenes by the end of the film, but it’s too late by this time. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has the ability to be one of the year’s best, but it flutters in the basic bore of Stiller comedy. Give it a shot on DVD, but nothing more. The Film Freak’s Mother – 8/10 – I really enjoyed the scenery of this film. A lot of the fields of green reminded me of my time in Ireland. I also enjoyed the role of the mother (Played by Shirley Maclaine) as she reminded me a lot of myself in the things i do to Christopher. Some of the scenes i didn’t like were the daydreaming. I felt it was really drawn out and overdone with too many minutes wasted on it. I also didn’t like the boss (Adam Scott). I felt he was a jerk.

12 Years a Slave

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10/10

There are very few words that i can say to express how amazing and disturbing this film was. Steve Mcqueen is back with another masterpiece which is his best work to date. He has an amazing way of shooting the expressions in an actor’s face and it’s those reactions that really bring out the story of Solomon Northup, a New York businessman who is captured and tortured as a a slave in Georgia for 12 years. Many films and series have done this premise and the story on racial inequality before, but none better than this film. There were times when i had to look away because the scenes were done so tragically. When a movie can reach through the screen and grab at my heart strings, that is when it will more than likely receive a ten from me. People always ask me why i don’t give them out often and it’s because it will mean more when one finally does come out of my mouth. If Chiwetel Ejiofor doesn’t win an Oscar for his work in this film, the academy are a bunch of morons, plain and simple. I feel like Mcqueen is one of those directors who can push each actor to the peak of their performance, and that is evidenced in this film. Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson and the amazing Michael Fassbender give the best performances of their lives. I was even impressed with Paul Dano as i do not usually enjoy his work. 12 Years a Slave is one of those films that show us that our pasts should never be forgotten. Racial equality has come a long way in this world, but it also took a long time to get here. I don’t feel incorrect at all in saying that this film doesn’t have one thing wrong with it. It is the best film i have seen in a long time. I don’t want to give too much away because the images are something that has to be seen to be believed. All i will say is that i totally recommend this film to everyone. If you have to pay 1,8,10 or 12 dollars to see this film, hand it over without questions. There are still a lot of Oscar contender movies to come out over the next few months and i cannot wait to see them. It just sucks for those films that 12 Years a Slave came out the exact same year.

The Counselor

 

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4/10

I am now convinced that most of the films i anticipated this year are trash. 2013 is a bad year for film. I had such HIGH hopes for this film and i couldn’t have been more disappointed. Before you see this film, make sure you know everything about the plot and what it is about. I read a ton up on this film and i still had trouble following everything that was going on. We never understand why Michael Fassbender accepts the job of the counselor, and we don’t even understand what that position entails. We are literally just given a bunch of colorful characters and prepare them for the worst. The only things i liked about this film was the beautiful shots in cinematography and the work of Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt. Diaz plays the best role of her life and is the only effort on conquering this awfully told story. But even she couldn’t overcome the tremendous odds laid against her. There is pointless and laughable sexual dialogue during the first 20 minutes that will make you roll your eyes when you think professionals wrote this. I was such a huge fan of Mccormick’s 2008 hit No Country For Old Men, but i have trouble believing The Counselor was written by the same person. There is almost no trace of that brilliance with building the story up. Surprisingly, this film has a lot of gore and blood. Some of the death scenes are done really well, but you wonder why they have to happen at all. I couldn’t imagine anyone is going to get any enjoyment out of this film other than the things i mentioned above. If you wish to see it, i would wait till DVD. When you pay 8-10 dollars for a movie, you are kind of forced to stay for the whole thing.

Carrie (2013)

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6.5/10

Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore star in this remake of the 1976 thriller about a girl with telekinetic powers. This film wasn’t as bad as i thought it was going to be. The dialogue was awful, the high school kids were a little over the top with their villain hatred, and it’s a little hard to believe Chloe Moretz in this role. Moretz is a great actress and a great pick for the role of the prom scene, but it’s every thing else that i have a problem with believing her in the role. Moretz is too beautiful to play a role that was described as an “Ugly duckling” in Stephen King’s book. The prom scene is pretty badass though. They modernized it to make some pretty gruesome deaths that much more interesting. Julianne Moore and Judy Doyle were amazing as the mother and gym teach of Carrie White, respectively. Moore is one of those actresses that can play any role you put her in. She is just that damn good. I sort of wish the film were a little longer than the 91 minute cut that we received. I can imagine there are some decent deleted scenes as there was a good chunk of the story left out. Still, Carrie isn’t a bad little film. I would recommend it for the dollar theater if you want to get out of the house. We don’t really learn anything new in the story, so the only reason to see it is to see the performances by the different actors at the helm.

Captain Phillips

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7.5/10

Tom Hanks gives his best performance in nearly a decade in this film about a ship taken over by African pirates. I didn’t expect too much from this film, but boy was i surprised. The film does a great job of telling the 2009 story of merchant mariner Richard Phillips and his amazing rescue. What i like is that i knew most of the events that happened in the film, but there were some things that even surprised me. That’s not to say that this film is 100% true, but we as a public are not privy to that kind of information, so i will take anything. The only thing i didn’t like about the film is it’s length. It is too long of a film and does drag at certain points. It would be easy to trim a half hour off of this film, but i kind of understand what they were going for. As i said before, Hanks is brilliant. This role is kind of different for him because he doesn’t often play a victim. I was really rooting for him and hoping for the best in every situation he was put in. Just when you think he may be safe, he was put into an even worse situation. I have seen six films this week and this is definitely the best one. The way it is shot is brilliant with a minor shaky cam that doesn’t go to extreme annoyance levels (See Die Hard 5). The cast is perfect, including the pirates themselves. I definitely recommend this film to everyone, but i would save it for DVD. It’s over 2 hours long, so you will appreciate those times when you can pause the film to go to the bathroom or do something around the house. Either way, definitely worth a look.

Metallica : Through the Never

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6/10

The worlds of music and film meet in this concert film with the story happening outside of a Metallica concert. First of all, the band still has it. They put on an epic 10 song performance that makes you feel like you are there in the live crowd. Shot with the beautiful Technicolor cameras, it makes for an amazing stage show that pushes the music even further. The other half of the film stars Dane Dehann as a stage hand who is caught in the middle of an apocalypse outside of the stadium. His job is to deliver a mysterious bag that we never find out what is inside. This part of the film we could have done without, but i understand why they did it. There are some beautiful symbolism shots that include a burning scene that had to be near impossible to shoot. We just never learn why this whole thing is going on and we know even less about why this bag is so important. There is no talking during this part of the film at all, and they just act as action and fighting scenes to play to the background of the music. To me, this film could be summarized as one giant 85 minute music video, but i think it’s a little more than that. I have seen concert films before and this one leaves you with a little extra. I do love Dehann as an actor and wish he could have gotten more character development here. This film only played for one weekend at Imax theaters and it’s understandable. It’s hard to categorize this as a film or a concert. It’s an experience that has to be seen by all Metallica fans. If you aren’t a fan of the band, it won’t mean anything to you.

Gravity

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8/10

This film was easily the most suspenseful film of the year for me. First of all, you have to see this film in theaters. DVD will not do it justice one bit. I also recommend you go to the 3D showing. I don’t usually condone 3D, but it was well worth it in this film. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are stuck in orbit in space. That is the whole premise. It seems dull, but these two great actors really make the most of a situation. My favorite things about this film was the editing and the score. Both of which are the best of the year in my opinion. The music is what totally supplies the suspense of this film. You really care for these characters and can see the terror that they face coming from a mile away. I found it funny that Ed Harris supplied the voice for mission control again (Apollo 13). The only thing i didn’t like about the film was that some scenes drag on a little too far. I think this will ruin the film for some people with short attention spans. This film gives us the most beautiful shots of earth in the background, and it’s only with those shots can you truly understand how deep these two are in. I recommend this film to everyone, but only in theaters.

Rush

 

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8/10

The title says it all in this fast paced film about two rival Formula 1 drivers who live the fast life of racing, and give it all to defeat the other one. This film had a lot of great qualities to it. The camera shots were beautiful with some incredible edits. This film should be nominated for an Oscar for it’s editing alone. Chris Hemsworth is great as the cocky and young, James Hunt, but it’s Daniel Bruhl who steals the show as Niki Lauda. During the film, you will find yourself rooting for Lauda even as the story follows Hunt more. I think that is what really puts Ron Howard above most directors in terms of storytelling. That subject definitely isn’t abandoned in this film as the story is every bit as good as any other part of the film. The only thing i would probably change about the storytelling is the outside of the racing world. We get glimpses into the different lifestyles of Lauda and Hunt, but we don’t ever really see enough to see what they are going through. The film is about the racing world, but to see more from the outside characters (Olivia Wilde especially) could make this film go a whole lot further. There are times where the film gets a little slow from the same scenario, and that is where some outside perspective would’ve helped. I would definitely recommend this film to everyone. I think racing fans will love it for obvious reasons, but non racing fans will like it from the charisma of Hemsworth and the intelligence of Bruhl.

Prisoners

 

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9/10

Hugh Jackman is an Oscar contender in this dark kidnapping drama. This 2 and a half hour film is filled with enough swerves to always keep you guessing. I thought the film played out more as a TV show than a movie. It has such a bleak surrounding that you wonder if the sun ever shines in this town. Two children go missing on Thanksgiving Day after playing outside, and the only thing the parents have to go on is an R-V that the kids were playing on outside. The thing i find the best about this movie is that it’s much more than a harrowing drama. It plays out a story that shows how parents can become a nightmare version of themselves when they lose the thing that can be the most precious to them, their children. This film turns in great performances as well from Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Maria Bello. Infact, i think Terrence Howard is the only actor who was wasted by a jam packed film. There simply just isn’t enough for him to do in this film. Some people who watch the film are going to hate it because there is kind of a negative aspect to the way the film ends, but i think it’s perfect. All of us have to answer for the sins we have committed and that is no further proof than in the film Prisoners. This is definitely the best film in theaters right now, and i recommend that everybody go see it. I don’t think a film has ever been as smart to cops and how they act when a child goes missing. A top ten of the year for sure.

Thanks For Sharing

 

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6/10

If Judd Apatow directed a film about sex addiction and the toxic traits that come with it, this would be the film he would make. Thanks for Sharing follows a couple of people in a group (Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Pink and Josh Gad) who struggle with the real disease known as sex addiction. This film does do a lot of good in opening the eyes of the world, and getting the word out there. It does have a lot wrong with it at the same time. For one, Mark Ruffalo just doesn’t feel right in this role. He comes off as a smarter man in all of his films and is quite good at playing the stereotypical genius character. That is why someone like The Hulk is perfect for him, because he is the side of Bruce Banner that is the scientist. In this role though, it just doesn’t work. He shares no on screen chemistry with his girlfriend in the movie (Gwyneth Paltrow) and that really hurts the scenes. Ruffalo is a great actor, but there are just some films that certain actors shouldn’t do. Tim Robbins however, was born to play this role. He plays a father whose own son is a drug addict. He struggles between the responsibility of leading a group and being a positive role model for his own child. Pink is also a breath of fresh air. For this being her first big role in a film, she really nails it. She brings such a deep sense of comfort and paranoia at the same time in her role as Dede. The scenes in this film were shot very well, but don’t take many risks. It’s a pretty safe movie with some real touching moments. There were just a couple of parts in particular that really took me out of the film. You can see some things coming from a mile away, and i think that is truly one of the film’s biggest weaknesses. Overall, the film is just OK, but should probably still be seen by anyone who is into films like these and 28 Days. As for sex addiction, i would stick with 2011’s Shame. It polarizes the disease in a more life altering nature.