movies

Manchester by the Sea

The whole time the general public has STILL been gushing about La La Land, they have totally missed Manchester by the Sea. 

This movie did not even come close to receiving the same level of hype as some of the other Oscar nominees. This is understandable from the perspective of casual movie-goers. This is understandable from the perspective of high-tech-movie-lovers. This is understandable from the perspective of several different groups of people, honestly.

But somehow, it so not understandable.

Manchester by the Sea  is a beautiful tragedy that deserves so much damn respect.

I left the theater feeling completely rung out. The movie does a full overhaul on your emotions, thanks to both the writing and the acting. It is an emotional masterpiece that never stops pulling on your heartstrings.

I was in a *slight* argument the other day about what makes film art. My opposition stated that a film cannot be art because “you don’t leave the theater wondering how that was made or where the idea came from”. I sincerely wanted to scream “WRONG”, but alas I did refrain. Instead, I politely disagreed and the argument dissipated. I was left thinking to myself, what really does make a film art?

I decided, for me at least, art is anything that makes you feel. Anything that makes you question or think or wonder. Art is totally open. It is definitely subjective.

To me, a film is even more a piece of art than a painting or a portrait. A film can leave me thinking for days, weeks, even years!

Manchester by the Sea exemplifies this type of art. The amount of feeling it is able to evoke is astounding. Though the movie may not be the most mainstream, or technical, or cinematic, or what have you, it makes you feel bounds more than several other current nominees whom I won’t mention.

TL;DR I loved this movie. So much. I cried, I laughed, I cried way more. 4.5 stars.

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Taylor’s 2014 Awards

I know it’s late, and technically the award season is already over, but here are my awards just for fun! I made them about a month ago, and I have seen several movies since then that definitely would have made it in if I would have seen them earlier, i.e. Whiplash and Big Hero 6. I saw over 115 movies this year; some were amazing and some were not so amazing. Here are the best and a few of the worst:

Worst Films:

5. The Rover

4. Rio 2

3. The Nut Job

2. Noah

1. Wer

 

Visual Effects:

5.Maleficent

4. Hobbit

3. Interstellar

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

1. The Lego Movie

 

Production Design

5. Hobbit

4. Interstellar

3. Fury

2. Snowpiercer

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Costume

4.Hobbit

3. X-Men

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

1. Grand Budapest

Sound Design:

4. Fury

3. Locke

2. The Boxtrolls

1. Interstellar

 

Editing:

5. Imitation Game

4. Nightcrawler

3. Boyhood

2. Gone Girl

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

 

 

Cinematography:

5. Gone Girl

4. The Imitation Game

3. The Boxtrolls

2. Grand Budapest Hotel

1. Interstellar

 

Music:

5. Grand Budapest Hotel

4. Hobbit

3. Begin Again

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

1. Interstellar

 

Supporting Actress:

4. Carrie Coon- Gone Girl

3. Rene Russo- Nightcrawler

2. Tilda Swinton- Snowpiercer

1. Kiera Knightley- Imitation Game

 

Actress:

4. Keira Knightley- Begin Again

3. Emily Blunt- Into the Woods

2. Helen Mirren- Hundred Foot Journey

1. Rosamund Pike- Gone Girl

 

Supporting Actor:

4. Tyler Perry- Gone Girl

3. Evan Peters- X-Men

2. Shia- Fury

1. Logan Lerman- Fury

 

Actor:

5. Ralph Fiennes- Grand Budapest

4.David Oyelowo- Selma

3. Jude Law- Dom Hemingway

2. Tom Hardy-Locke/ Drop

1. Jake Gyllenhaal- Enemy/Nightcrawler

 

Best Cast:

4. X-Men

3. Fury

2. Gone Girl

1. Grand Budapest

 

Adapted Screenplay:

5. Guardians of the Galaxy

4. The Imitation Game

3. Hobbit

2. Snowpiercer

1. Gone Girl

 

Original Screenplay:

5. Boyhood

4. Locke

3. Interstellar

2. Nightcrawler

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Best Director:

5. Richard Linklater- Boyhood

4. Dan Gilroy- Nightcrawler

3. Christopher Nolan- Interstellar

2. Wes Anderson- Grand Budapest

1. David Fincher- Gone Girl

 

Best Animated/Kid’s Movie:

5. Alexander and the Terrible..

4. Book of Life

3. Lego Movie

2. How to Train Your Dragon 2

1. The Boxtrolls

 

Best Action:

5. Sabotage

4. Divergent

3. Nonstop

2. Fury

1. John Wick

 

Best Horror:

4. Deliver Us From Evil

3. As Above So Below

2. Annabelle

1. Oculus

 

Best Fantasy:

3. Guardians of the Galaxy

2. Hobbit

1. Days of Future Past

 

Best Sci-Fi:

5. Zero Theorem

4. Edge of Tomorrow

3. Signal

2. Snowpiercer

1. Interstellar

 

Best Romance/Romantic Comedy:

5. Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

4. Longest Week

3. What If

2. Begin Again

1. Adult World

 

Best Comedy (Dramedy?):

5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible…

4. This is Where I Leave You

3. Dom Hemingway

2. Frank

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Best Drama:

5. Selma

4. Imitation Game

3. Enemy

2. Gone Girl

1. Nightcrawler

 

Best Films of 2014:

10. Enemy

9. Boxtrolls

8. Guardians of the Galaxy

7. Hobbit

6. John Wick

5. Interstellar

4. Gone Girl

3. Nightcrawler

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

Still Watching Movies, I Swear

IMG_6435So, it’s been a while since our last post. We knew this would probably happen.

The past few months have been over-flowingly filled with getting a new puppy (meet Smeagol, our pride and joy!), moving (twice!), getting new jobs (Garret is now a parks and rec man, and I work in a video store!), starting classes again, and of course watching movies.

But because we have spent a lot of this time watching movies, we definitely have plenty that need to be talked about. We have seen about 20 new releases since our last post. While a handful of those have been painfully average movies, a good few were enough to remind us what really awesome story-telling and cinematography are all about, and what they are not about.

We have also seen many, many older movies in this time as well. I have gotten some chances to redeem myself for some of the classics (calling them classics for a lack of a better word… favorites?) that I never got around to watching before, like The Usual Suspects, Heathers, American Psycho, Se7en, etc. After watching each one of them I felt like hitting myself in the face for waiting so long to see them. I mean come on, they’re perfect. No wonder it’s been 15- 25 years since they came out and people still obsess over them. I mean damn, who knows how many conversations I sat through wondering why everyone was talking about what was in the box or who is Keyser Soze? I finally know these things! If you don’t dream of getting to wear the color red (or of killing the girl who does), or of Christian Bale (and then feel awkward about it because you know he’s insane), or of any of those movies; go watch them. Seriously. There really is a reason why each of those still exists in film conversation today.

The point to this post really is no matter how busy we get with everything else, we’re still watching movies.

I’ll post soon.

Taylor’s Best Picture Noms Reviews

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Having seen over 75 new movies that were released in 2013, it is a little bit crazy to admit that I didn’t get a chance to see all of the Academy Award’s Best Picture Nominees. Movies that received a lot of attention like Gravity and Captain Phillips somehow managed to never make it on to my “watched-list”. And then there were the other movies that seemed to slip through some of the cracks like Nebraska and Philomena. I have heard and read some really great things about those movies and promise to try to watch them one day.

With all of that being said, I did get to see 5 of the nominees, so let’s talk about those.

First up—The Wolf of Wall Street.

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We’ll start here because out of these movies I saw it first (and maybe also because it was fantastic, I mean come on.) The Wolf of Wall Street is a too-exciting, overly-energetic, and slightly (only slightly?) ridiculous portrayal of Jordan Belfort’s real-life story. Under my main man Marty—ahem, Mr. Martin Scorsese’s—direction, the brilliancy of Leonardo DiCaprio being, well, a terrifically fun, somewhat insane Leo, is brilliant indeed.

Now, I’m not sure if this would be a real review if we didn’t at least touch on the Lemmon Quaaludes scene… The hilarity and craziness this entire scene captures is top-notch material, and that camera work on the stairs—perfection.

Aside from the always-lovely Leo and always-surprising Jonah Hill, there’s Margot Robbie, and if Margot Robbie didn’t accomplish what she was casted to accomplish, then I don’t think any female ever will.

While the story isn’t all that different from other Wall Street tales, the truth is—no one asked it to be.

I should say that I walked into this movie with already very high expectations, which can sometimes make or break a movie watching experience. In this case, my mostly met expectations turned out to be a big positive.

The Wolf of Wall Street gets 4 bright and shining Leo stars from me.

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Next—American Hustle.

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I’m going to start off here by saying that I did not have the highest of expectations for American Hustle, mostly because everything I saw and heard about it was almost exclusively about Jennifer Lawrence, and don’t get me wrong, I love Jennifer Lawrence, but I am not a fan of marketing a movie solely on the pretty female character. BUT! Fortunately I was very surprised and ended up being pretty happy with this movie.

So, it’s no secret that what makes this movie so exciting is the cast. With Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and yes, Jennifer Lawrence (and who could forget about Robert De Niro and Louis C.K.), it would be pretty hard to make anything but a good movie. Christian Bale manages to soar above pretty much everyone else here, with his beer-belly and hair piece, and makes the whole experience something you kind of just want to revel in. I mean really, how often do you see Batman sporting a style like that? He proves, as always, that he’s right where he needs to be. There’s also Amy Adams, who really surprised me here. After seeing her in Man of Steel earlier in the year (in which I really wasn’t impressed with her), it was nice to see her trying a little bit harder. And it was just that little bit of try that bumped her up into one of my favorite female spots of the year.

Aside from the brilliant cast, we also get a refreshingly original and amazingly well-written script, as well as a pretty picture. You get to follow along on this exciting scandal, while also just enjoying the dialogue and scenery. Really, A+ work David O Russell.

And to top it all off, the ending. You can call me a little bit of a sucker for good, unexpected endings, and this one really got me.

American Hustle gets 4.5 stars. You go David O Russell.

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Moving on to—Her.

Spike Jonze and Joaquin Phoenix on the set of Her

Her was undeniably the movie I was most skeptical about going in to it. I wasn’t really convinced that a love story between a man and Siri (for the most part) was something I could believe in or even enjoy watching. And I’m not going to lie, I was not a fan of The Master, and that was the last thing I had associated with Joaquin Pheonix. So you could easily say that I went into this movie with fairly low expectations.

Spike Jonze made me a believer (for the movie’s sake, at least). I don’t think it would be normal or acceptable by any means for someone to have a relationship like Theodore and Samantha’s, but this movie made me believe in theirs. Between Joaquin’s impressive acting and Scarlett’s lovely voice, I was captured. I wanted to know what was going to happen, I felt invested in their relationship. It was the most perfect love story set in the most unusual circumstances.

And if all of that lovey-doveyness wasn’t enough, this movie also successfully made me excited for the future in technology. The ear piece that reads you all of your messages, the virtual video games, and a Siri that would actually be able to help you do things… Of course those “things” should strictly be contained to handling computer and phone type jobs, but still. Any movie that can touch on my love of technology is a good movie indeed.

4 stars for Her.

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And then—Dallas Buyers Club.

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This one had a fairly clean slate for me going in because, I’m going to be honest here, I had no idea who Ron Woodroof was or what this movie was even really about. All I knew was that Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (one of my favorites) was in it, and that Jared had recently been posting pictures of himself dressed as a girl. But it turns out that that ignorance that I had is exactly what this movie was striving to clear up, and clear it up it did.

Even from the very first opening (pretty ridiculous) scene, Matthew McConaughey kills it as this sex-addicted, drunk and drugged, homophobic loon. Though that sounds like a person you probably shouldn’t care much for, you somehow do. He makes you believe in his cause and in his character transformation throughout the movie. And that is coming from someone who has never been a huge fan of Mr. Alright, Alright, Alright. He somehow manages to take you away from his McConaugheyness for just enough time to see the Ron Woodroof within, and that is a pretty freakin’ big deal for him. Good job, man.

And you literally can not talk about acting in this movie without bringing up how incredible Jared Leto was in this. I have watched countless interviews from Jared, and have even seen him live twice, but I have most definitely never seen him like this. Not only is he… well… Rayon, he’s also just emotionally and creatively on point the whole time. Never once do you stop and question “is this really happening? Is he really doing this?” because you just believe it. This was, no doubt, a perfect role and a perfect execution to come back to acting with.

The movie successfully did what it sought out to do and managed to instill in every single viewer  a deeper enlightenment on AIDS, medicinal drugs, and life. I have to say, personally I was pleasantly surprised and most certainly impressed with this movie.

Dallas Buyers Club gets and most definitely deserves a beautiful bunch of 4 stars.

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And last but most certainly by no means whatsoever least—12 Years a Slave.

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This is a great place to end because honestly it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. The cinematography, the sound, the script, and the acting were all unquestionably outstanding. The story takes you through a normal, free life in New York, to a highly emotional and raw slave life in the south in 1853.

Chiwotel Ejiofor brings Solomon Northrup’s wrenching memoir to life in the most alive way. I felt his anger as he was abducted, I felt his pain as he was hanging from that tree, and I felt his hope as it was finally restored to him. And dammit I felt Michael Fassbender’s villainy, which is a big deal for a huge Michael Fassbender fan like myself because it’s pretty tough to see someone you adore be that cruel. But he did it, and he did it well.

Steve McQueen somehow managed to get a huge, amazing group of actors and actresses to work together in the most cohesive and complimentary way. Chiwotel, Michael, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti– all brilliant, and they all fit together like beautiful little pieces falling into place along with the screenplay, together building a captivatingly inspiring movie.

The raw unglamorized scenes are enough to make you want to look away, but I found myself completely unable to. I watched every bit of it, every bit of suffering. It all told the story of a man that needed his story to be told, and it did it with every single ounce of respect and sorrow that it deserved.

And 12 Years a Slave gets all the stars from me. Bravo.

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Bear with us!!!

If anyone can’t already tell, our blog isn’t quite complete yet. We’re running into a few coding issues that will be dealt with soon enough. In the mean time, you can look forward to a posting that’s coming soon. Catch our review of some of the Best Picture Noms for this year. We’ll rate Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Her, and American Hustle. And soon enough we’ll have our own awards posted for the year.

—Garret