‘And Everything Is Going Fine’ Review

and_everything_is_going_fine_xlgAnd Everything is Going Fine is simply at it’s core a autobiographical look at Spalding Gray. I say it is autobiographical because it a compilation of Spalding speaking on himself, telling his life story through a series of interviews and spoken story telling style stage shows.

Spalding Gray was little more than a name to me before I saw this documentary. He is an actor, a performer, a father, a lover, a victim of mental illness, and at his very a core a story teller.

As the director Soderbergh is tasked with gathering hours of material and producing a self told documentary that is perfectly paced, hitting on what I thought were the most interesting and important moments in his life.

Gray goes from hilarious to personal and heart breaking without skipping a beat. He opens up to us in ways that some of our best friends never would. Why does he do this? To justify himself? To unleash his burdens on someone else? I think he does it to stay true to himself, to never lose composure. So we never see around the character, the human being that is Spalding Gray.

9/10

‘The Innkeepers’ Review

ExclInnkeepersBigThe Innkeepers scared me more than most horror films. I have never been so tense during a horror film before. I usually find it very easy for me to sit relaxed and poised while my girlfriend hides her face. But I think I may have been even more scared than her this time around.

The movie has this wonderful charm that is carried out by its lead played by Sara Paxton. There is a constant sense of humor that lasted through the whole film. The funniest moment being when Luke scares Claire by saying “I don’t want to scare you, but I’m standing right behind you.”

I would say there are no more than 10 scares in this film, but the lead up to each one absolutely terrified me. Ti West sometimes even makes us sit in agony up to 10 minutes at a time, while we wait for the next scare.

The Innkeepers was simple in every way. The plot was very straight forward. It never gets swept up in a convoluted story line that so many modern horror film fall prey to. The characters are not overly complex and we understand every characters motivation in terms of plot and development. Ti West never get’s carried away with special effects making me feel like even I could have made that film.

7/10

 

‘John Carter’ Review

john-carter-poster (1)EVERYONE IS WRONG!!! John Carter is one of the best Sci-fi fantasy adventure films made in the last 10 years. It doesn’t sit as highly as something like Avatar, a movie I think is a marvelous entertainment, though many take the opposite stance on my opinion. John Carter is a type a film I would have adored as a kid, back when I first saw star wars. It is an great mix of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Star Trek rolled into one very entertaining and beautifully space adventure.

The book ends for this film were used really well, character Edgar Rice Burroughs has inherited the riches of his uncle John Carter, and is most importantly left along his journal for him to have and read alone. And so John Carter’s story starts and so ends, using the book ends in a rather unique way.

Andrew Stanton’s adaption of author’s Edgar Rice Burroughs’ world of Mars was fascinating and brought together rather realistically in an amazing use of CGI.

It was really fun being invited into a world of such interesting and well thought out tribes of alien men and creatures. I loved every minute I spent on Mars. The story of grand adventure and heroism is well thought out, producing an adventure story that should make any adventure genre lover have a great time.

I think it sad that people pushed off this movie, dismissing it for nothing more than a CGI fest with a bad characters and worse story. But when I look at critics reviews, it seems that most were split in positive and negative reviews, which in my opinion can be a good representation of a film, showing that it doesn’t and shouldn’t fit everyones interests. But personally I think it could be something that people will come back to years later and appreciate it for being the grand diversion of reality it is.

8/10

‘An American In Paris” Review

Poster-An-American-in-Paris_03An American in Paris holds a very small part in my memory. I know I saw it once when I was was little, but could not remember a thing about it, and now I remember why. Unlike Singin’ in the Rain (my favorite movie of all time) An American in Paris has little for me to remember. None of the songs are particularly memorable accept for the fact that I know them since they have been used for over 60 years as jazz standards. But the film isn’t bad. It is just a very safe musical that doesn’t push the envelope in any way.

One reason that I watched the movie with strong interest because the opening scene was the best part of the whole film. For years I have loved how Gene Kelly moves, both in dance and outside. The best example I have of this, and my favorite part of the whole movie was when Gene Kelly’s character Jerry wakes up in the morning. We find Jerry in his normal morning routine, he answers his door, slinks out of bed, pull his bed up to the rafters. From here he glides around his loft grabbing clothes and shifting his furniture around in a mesmerizing, rhythmic grace that only someone who is as disciplined in movement as Gene could achieve. Now if only the rest of the movie had such nuance.

That opening scene alone kept An American in Paris from getting a less than a 6.8/10.

 

‘The Past’ Review

past_ver2_xlgI don’t know how, but unfortunately The Past disappeared during the awards season and I hardly saw it mentioned in any top lists of 2013. It is no doubt one of the best of last year.

Even though it runs over two hours in lengths, the pacing is lifted by the situational tension between our characters, as we want to grow closer and understand each of them better. Every character in this is facing some kind of anger, fear, or doubt. Director/Writer Asghar Farhadi isn’t afraid of judging and punishing his characters. This makes it that much more real for us as an audience, giving us the opportunity of letting us decide how we feel about each one of them.

The Past is one of the most truthful, beautifully acted, and precisely shot films I have ever seen.

10/10

 

‘Noah’ Review

Noah-posterWhen stepping into a movie theater, you as an audience member have decided to be transferred to a different world. This is the world of the director. You cannot bring with you expectations of the world that you are going to be in for the next two and a half hours. It is up to the director to make sure you understand his world and that you will have an entertaining and/or thought provoking time in it. Some movies do a better job at explaining their world. Many fall short, but only few succeed in grabbing its audience, allowing them to step inside some place they may or may not have ever been before.

Darren Aronofsky has succeeded in creating a fascinating pre-flood world. Immediately I was able to forget what I thought I knew about the world before the flood and let Aronofsky invite me to his interpretation of this renowned Biblical story.

Noah lives in a world of filth, hate, violence, and sin. He has chose to live in exile with his family from the rest of the world. He must be strong, wise, and even sometimes ruthless. Noah is a warrior of The Creator. He is taught as a boy that The Creator is sovereign over all. That human are here to serve him, to fear, and love him. Noah is of the descendants of Seth, Adam and Eve’s third son. Opposing Noah and his family are the sons and daughters of Cain, the other son of Adam and Eve who killed his brother Abel.

Noah is given a vision from God, a vision that the world and all living things will be wiped out by water that will cover the earth. Aronofsky uses a startling image of people drowning underwater with Noah in their midst, struggling to reach the surface. He wakes and finds that he must travel to see his Great Grandfather Methuselah.

From here we are introduced to some fascinating characters that I know many have had a problem with. These creatures are the watchers, what I see as Aronfsky’s interpretation of the Nephilim, or fallen angels. I think the inclusion of these characters is fascinating and only adds to his pre flood world.

So often as humans we look at fantasy as myth, that fantasy is furthest away from reality. But so often in the Bible we are told the world, as we perceive it far from actual reality. That world is much closer to fantasy. I don’t find it at all hard to believe that this world was much different they we perceive it today, that there were many “fantastical” things during this time. I can’t help but admire Aronofsky’s inclusion of these fanciful ideas into his graphic novel and now into his film Noah.

Through the rest of the film we see Noah struggling, struggling with the burden of the ark, with protecting his family, facing his advisories, and finally interpreting The Creator’s visions.  In the final half of the film the director starts to pull at our relationship with Noah, we start to question his actions, and maybe even start to hate him as a character. But this is the point in the film that becomes most important. This is when we see Noah at his lowest point, when he is most human. This is when Noah must make a decision, a decision that could change the outcome of the world, as he knows it. A decision we must all make every day of our lives. This is when we can say that God is not a tyrant, that he let’s us make decisions. I find it remarkable that an atheist director can tell such a Christian message.

Thematically Noah has its ups and down. Too often we have characters telling us the themes and motivations of the movies in conversation. I can overlook this as I find many would not try to understand some of the more subtle messages, thus making this film accessibility better, overall. I personally would have liked to see Aronofky’s  more subtle side, but I can see Paramount putting some pressure on him to help out the audience.

We are still given many Aronofsky like sequences, a number of startling images, and even a creation story, much in the likes of Terrance Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’. Many say that he is copying Malick here, but I found his using of frame-by-frame, time-lapse fascinating and one of my favorite parts of the whole film.

The casting is really fascinating, as always Russell Crowe is very believable in this period piece, The inclusion of Emma Watson helps play with how we perceive innocence and womanhood, though she is 24 years old, it is hard to think of Emma Watson as an adult for her youthful looks really pull at us, making us fell for her character even more. The only real comic relief we get is from Anthony Hopkins who plays the mysterious old Methuselah. Ray Winstone has the showiest and maybe even best performance as the film antagonist, Tubal-cain.

Not since Spring Breaker’s last year, and Tree of Life the Year Before have thought so much about a movie. Noah is the movie that people should be seeing right now. Even if you think you will not like it, it needs to be seen, just so you can take part in its conversation. I would really encourage everyone of every belief to seek it out and discuss it. I can already say that it is one of the best films of the year.

9/10

 

‘Free to Play’ Review

free to play docFree to Play is a documentary that tells the story of three professional gamers as they virtually battle it out in a Computer based game called Dota 2, to win a 1.6 million dollar prize. This film was made by Valve, a video game development and digital distribution company that created the game. They set out 3 cinematographers to tell the three different stories that take place in Free to Play. These accounts are edited and brought together by the Dota 2 tournament. Their narratives are decently interesting, but what mainly kept me going was my interest in this new world or competitive gaming.

As someone who knows little about Dota 2, the game that the documentary focuses on, I felt like they did a decent job in explaining how the game operates, but I still felt lost when it came to more technical elements. I may just have to pick up the game to truly understand how it works. But for audiences who already take part in the world of Dota 2, I am sure they will have no problem keeping up with the logistics.

Overall the visuals look good, and I even like how Valve went to extra lengths to do some CGI animation that would represent the some of the action taking place.

Gaming may very well be a as popular as some major professional sports one day, but I do think it will take a few years. Once my generation is grown up, with teenage kids of their own, I believe that competitive gaming will sweep the world.

6.8/10

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