Sunday, January 27, 2013

John Dies at the End Movie Review - A Dark Comedy filled to the brim with personality

In John Dies at the End, Dave, John and their friends discover a new street drug called Soy Sauce that can send its users across time and dimensions. However, some people return as no longer human.

The short synopsis above, as trippy and crazy as its sounds, is exactly what the movie is about. In more ways than one, the movie is over the top bizzarre, features strange and uncanny humor and is edgy as much as it is crazy. It is also some parts cheesy and some parts silly but the best thing about it is that the movie knows it is that kind of film and delivers on that concept on all fronts. Well, at least during the first half.

One thing I have to say that really appealed to me in John Dies at the End is the incredibly well made opening scene. The first few moments grip you easily as you try to figure out what this movie is actually about. You get some elements of suspense and action with some drops of horror with a great big splash of crazy. The opening scenes will end and you can't help but say "What the hell am I watching? It's awesome!". Then you are given some more context about the whole gist of the story from which you find out John Dies at the End is really interesting and intriguing and you can't wait for everything else that happens in the movie.

The meat monster. Hilarious.
But sad to say it didn't hold on to the very intriguing philosophical and silly vibe it had going for the first half of the movie. I found myself quickly losing interest as the jokes and scenes became more edgy and the plot just turned in on over itself. It's basically about this new street drug that grants the users the power to see the flow of time and participate in the different dimensions. Then our heroes suddenly realize a supernatural invasion of the world will live in is quietly brewing and it is their job to stop it. The moment our heroes delved in deep into this important plot point is where I lost interest.

I love the questions and concepts posed by the movie like how a word we hear for the first time will resurface again within 24 hours. Another example is the amazing interpretation of time and space by an important Jamaican character and the scene where different types of meat converged to form one hideous but hilarious looking monster. It was themes and concepts like these that I was looking forward to in the movie but they never really delivered on those things. By the end of the movie, everything just went all out crazy which left a bad taste in my mouth. I wish they touched on the time aspect more and gave it more of a foundation since I thought their concept of time was really unique.

I just lost interest by this part.
The special effects though had a cheap B-rate charm to them. I love the fact that they didn't use CG whenever they wanted. They had a lot of practical effects which added to the movie's personality. And this movie is without a doubt filled to the brim with personality.

If you're a fan of over the top and cheesy jokes, genital humor and crazy stories then this movie is for you. However, if you are like me, who has some sort of imaginary limit to the craziness I can absorb then I still urge you to watch it. I am a very eclectic movie watcher and John Dies at the End was ultimately really fun but in the end it just wasn't for me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Take Shelter Movie Review - An intense psychological dramatization of the apocalypse

In Take Shelter, a man is faced with visions of a unique and upcoming apocalyptic calamity and takes the necessary steps to protect him and his family.

The interest for apocalyptic and post apocalyptic movies has been going up these days and as a result we are getting a slew of very sci fi and out of this world presentations of the end of the world. However, even if Take Shelter is one of these kinds of movies it ultimately brings a more human and tamed narrative of an upcoming disastrous event with numerous twists and turns and haunting sequences which are incredible and play amazingly well on screen.

The basic structure of the movie is that Curtis, played by the amazing Michael Shannon, starts having visions of a coming storm. First they plagued his dreams then it slowly creeps into his reality. Though the concept of the movie deals with the apocalypse, it focuses on the coping of Curtis with his visions and how he drags his family, coworkers and friends along the way. In my opinion it is directly comparable to The Shining in structure but the film takes a huge turn near the end followed by a sort of open ended but perfectly satisfying ending.

The visions are intense and foreboding

This movie is without a doubt really powerful. The whole movie was overbearing on the gloom and doom but it was fine since that is what the movie is all about and the cast and crew executed this incredible vision amazingly well.

The acting was superb. Michael Shannon for the first half of the movie gave a relatively tame and conserved performance then absolutely exploded by the end. His character was unbelievably well rounded and you couldn't help but feel bad but still speclative of his predicament. Also, Jessica Chastain was really good in this movie, as with most of her works. She plays Curtis' wife who seems so innocent and caring you can feel the chemistry between her, Curtis and their child in the movie. It felt real. And it dealt with the psychological aspect when it comes to preparing for the uncertain and fear of the unknown as much as the apocalyptic visions themselves. The acting, dialogue and script meshed together so well it was a treat to watch on screen.

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain's acting simply blew it out of the park

I would also like to reiterate that Take Shelter has one of the best endings I've seen in cinema. At one point you will be thinking that this movie will take a typical turn and end it that way, but then you realize the movie isn't done yet and presents you with an even better ending that made me gasp in excitement and disbelief. I would like to think it was conclusive, but the structure of the last scenes made it open for interpretation. It kills me to not know how everything actually ended but the payoff for thinking and deliberating the events that transpired and are about to transpire after the end credits is incredible. This of course isn't an Inception-like deal. Yes, nothing as bizzare as that.

I love the effects they used for the storms and the visions. The sound design was really great and it made these visions of the apocalypse that much more exciting. There are lot of points where you are in a state of suspension of disbelief but it didn't matter since almost everything about the visuals and audio you experience watching this movie is very well crafted and served the narrative until the credits rolled.

Moving and extremely terrifying at the same time

Take Shelter has easily become one of the best films I have ever seen. It sported a concept that some might consider mundane and overused and transformed it into something you most probably haven't seen done in movies. Take Shelter was honest and raw and every bit of the movie was tense and thrilling. That and the very satisfying ending makes Take Shelter earn its place into one of the best movies of all time.

Liberal Arts Movie Review - A fresh, light hearted and intelligent drama/comedy

In Liberal Arts, an enthusiastic and verbose 35 year old revisits his alma mater for a professor's retirement party and meets a very attractive girl in the process. The problem is, she is 16 years younger than him.

Liberal Arts is one of those movies that is directed, written and starred in by one particular and important person. In Liberal Arts, that person is Josh Radnor. In most cases, movies which feature a person handling three different and important roles often fall flat in either of the three aspects of the film however in Liberal Arts, all three aspects where delivered incredibly well which makes for a very lighthearted, intelligent and at the same time meaningful drama/comedy.

Radnor plays Jesse Fisher who often talks about the greatness of college when opportunites were abundant and when the world was your oyster. When he is invited to go back to his alma mater by an old professor, he instantly accepts without hesitation at all. This is where the story begins and it is in this college where most of the plot takes place. This is a story about contentment and the fulfillment of dreams and the harsh but apparent reality of going from a contained academic environment to the chaotic or in some instances unsatisfying life after college.

Josh Radnao revisits his college days in his latest acting and directorial effort

I really liked the topic the movie tried to tackle. Radnor seemingly wants the viewers to reminisce on their days back in college or in school in general and evaluate how much we've changed from our idealistic and naive selves in the past to the kind of people who hold on to our almost passive and realist world views today. Radnor then takes that concept and injects it with intelligent and charming writing by infusing the script with literary references and artsy characterizations of day to day things. This gives the movie a unique style and energy not found in other films of the same genre. However, some parts seemed really bizzare like the character of Zac Efron which I am aware was simply used as a device for Jesse Fisher to sort of reach a moment of transcendence to ultimately round out his character. Another sequence that took me out of the film and which I kind of perceived as really jarring and annoying was the argument over Twilight. At that point, the movie sounded almost overbearingly preachy as Radnor through his character Fisher shares his views about society.

As for the relationships I felt that Fisher and Elizabeth (played by Elizabeth Olsen) didn't connect as much as I wanted them to. But given the circumstances that may have been what Radnor wanted. Individually though, they gave good performances. Side characters like Peter Hoberg (played by Richard Jenkins) and Judith Fairfield (Allison Janney) added another layer to the narrative and sort of gave the themes of the movie a more central and universal importance. Radnor showed throughout the movie through these characters that transformations, whether good or bad, can happen to any of us.

Though they didn't connect as much as I wanted Olsen and Radnor had some great giggle inducing scenes

As for the directing, there wasn't any particular directing style used. It was very simple and straightforward. It could have gone for more risky cinematography but its contained and laidback presentation also added to the overal relaxing ambiance of the film.

Overall, Liberal Arts is a simple and enjoyable drama/comedy that is both literate and moving and will leave you with a lot of thoughts to ponder on about contentment as well as discontentment, the frustrations of moving from one landscape of life to another, the vulnerability induced by uncertainness of the future as well as the pressures of the present and the consequentiality of life itself. Riveting stuff.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Les Miserables Movie Review - A Timeless Piece of Musical Cinema

In Les Miserables, we join Jean Valjean, who after serving his 19 year service in prison is now trying to rebuild his life after a kind gesture from an understanding bishop despite attempts at stealing silver from him. He then seeks redemption by taking on the responsibility of caring for a child from which her dying mother, Fantine, entrusted to him. All this in raw musical form.

One thing you need to know about this movie going in is that its basically a musical in cinema form based on the classic musical, Les Miserables. It features the same story elements with a few minor modifications here and there as well as a new song made by the original composers specifically for the purposes of the movie. Another twist to this movie as it is probably the first of its kind, as far as I'm concerned, to record the voices and performances live on set. Traditional musicals record the songs before shooting. Did it work well? It sure did.

Better add this to the numerous faces of Hugh Jackman.

The opening scene features and underwater shot. It was quiet and the sound was muffled. A few seconds in, the camera moves upward, above the water revealing the CG spectacle of the prisoners, including Valjean pulling a huge boat while the sweeping and familiar Prologue theme of Les Miserables plays in the background. It was a great way to start the movie since it was very inviting to fans and probably non-Les Mis fans alike. Then they started singing. At first it sounded a little bizzarre. You have this gritty and chaotic background, with water crashing everywhere and filthy men pulling this towering boat while Javert looks from afar, while they were singing. It takes a good 15 or so minutes to get used to it after which you become totally enraptured by the movie.

There is a certain charm in Tom Hooper movies like The King's Speech. He likes very unconventional framing and camera movements in his movies that sometimes take me out a bit. In Les Mis he prefers the camera right in the face of the actors as they sing with some truly bizzarre but interesting angles here and there. And in some cases he frames characters where you can barely see them with a wall filling the rest of the frame. But there were moments were the swooping camera movements and angles were just jaw dropping. For example in Javert's performance of stars, I just loved the wide angle look from above as he walks at the edge of a building or as Valjean delivers his soliloquy. As he was transforming into a changed man, we see him looking in the distance at the edge of a cliff and the camera just zooms out as the paper he tore flutters in the wind. The camera then reveals a feather in the sky and swoops down to reveal Javert riding for town. But like I said, I found the cinematography a little bothering at times but it was unique and fresh. There was stark contrast between one sequence from the next. Some felt jarring and unnatural but I didn't mind it that much. Especially because of the acting.

The visuals, for the most part, were great.

The performances in this movie were outstanding. I love movies that don't cut too much in dialogue and this movie hits the right notes in that aspect (no pun intended). Numerous times during the defining songs of the characters, the camera was simply right in their face without cuts or camera tricks. It was simply 3-4 minutes of in-your-face, one angle, honest singing and acting. It had this visceral and raw kind of feel and I really loved that about Les Mis. There were actually some points where you see the shadow of the camera on the characters' faces (Since I make videos of my own I am hyperaware of this stuff) which in itself wasn't a problem because the performances were stellar.

Anne breaking away from the delicate Princess Diary image.

Which brings me to Russel Crowe's performance of Javert. I would like people to listen to other people say that Crowe was bad at his part or he didn't do it justice. I did. But during the movie, I enjoyed his performances. He wasn't as bad as people make him out to be. You can see in his acting that he was trying and it showed. He played a different kind of Javert. A calmed and contained Javert which compliments well with Jackman's explosive performance of Valjean. They in a way theatrically canceled each other out which gives another layer to their strange relationship. Well, he wasn't consistent obviously, but I don't think he was the weakest of the actors. But it is clear who the strongest was: Anne Hathaway. Through all her parts, I was in a state of trance. I felt my eyes drying up as they were glued on screen and at certain parts it would just well up because of how beautiful and sad her parts were. Hathaway stole the show that's for sure.

This was one of the most heartbreaking moments of the movie.

But this gave a kind of unneveness to the performances but still all of them, I thought, were great. One thing I need to mention is Eddie Redmayne's Marius and Samantha Barks' Eponine. Eddie's rendition of Empty Chairs and Empty Tables is amazing. He brought a certain brand of singing and acting to the table which keeps on playing in my head over and over even after the movie. Sam Barks' Eponine though was perfect. There is a reason she is highly regarded in theatre because of her Eponine role in the musical. I'm glad they got her on board. Last thing I want to mention about the songs is "Suddenly" which was the new song made by the original composers of Les Mis. It was a welcome addition to the track list and I am very excited as to how the song will be used going forward.

I can talk about the other actors but it would make for a very long read. In a nutshell, though there performances were not on par with each other, they were all great which is quite a relief for me who really looked forward to this movie.

Aside from some directing and cinematography gripes and unnevenness of the actor's performances, Les Miserables is an undeniable good time and I see this movie being as timeless as the musical and book are. Truly a timeless piece of musical cinema.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty - Movie Review

In Zero Dark Thirty, we wear the shoes of CIA analyst Maya as she with an ensemble of different people go on a decade long pursuit for al-Qaeda terrorist Osama Bin Laden after the events of 9/11 up to his momentous and eventual death.

Zero Dark Thirty starts off with a very contained and chilling scene where nothing is on screen except some soundbites from the 9/11 attacks. At that point I knew this movie may have garnered all that hype for a reason. For the most part, the movie did fill some of my expectations but just fell short in some important things from which I think may add to the movie.

The story and script was great. It had a lot of detail in it and it is apparent that the scriptwriters wanted to include every event, every conflict and every conversation possible for a theatrical release. I, for one, do not know much about these string of events but I followed most of the details pretty easily because of the great writing and dialogue. But with the sheer amount of content to deliver the movie felt pretty long in the tooth. I guess I can attribute this to its very contained and conserved approach but you can't help but feel that some parts dragged too much.

Jessica Chastain called and she wants another best actress award.

The build up to certain events are unbelievably long with little pay off. There may also be some scenes which I would have preferred tightened or cut out but would still maintain the intended integrity of the pacing. With that, the movie falls flat with pacing. It is incredibly well written no doubt, but the wait from one important event to another is filled with minor filler which could have been shortened or presented direct to the point. But then again, that is the nature of this movie. It is based on real events and you can't modify these events heavily without sparking some sort of controversy for the sake of saving viewers from boredom. But I repeat, it wasn't boring, it simply felt like it didn't need to run that long to be effective.

I say that because of the great directing and cinematography. On one side, it may seem like industry standard filmmaking but in the end, you kind of feel surprised and relieved that the directing worked. When the scenes were heavy, the tension was off the charts. And when that tension grips you, it grips you hard. Kathryn Bigelow, aside from the direction of the movie feeling a tad familiar, the way she transformed a well written and intelligent script into a very contained and professional film was stellar.

Lots of different characters with very little substance.

This is due in part to the great acting by Jessica Chastain and company. This can very well be titled Jessica Chastain: The Movie and could get away with it. Maya easily outplays all other actors in this one. The way she transformed from first seeing torture, to the one doing the torture, to being the prime intelligence expert who found and killed Bin Laden all in the comfort of her own office was a sight to see. But I can't help but feel that the movie also suffered from this focus on the woman who put together all the pieces. Zero Dark Thirty featured an ensemble cast but they were very underused and underdeveloped. They had actors like Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler and Joel Edgerton. They even had Mark Duplass on board who in my opinion is one of the best actors of this generation. But they had very little screen time and some decent dialogue. But in the end, you couldn't care less about them.

Just to get this off my chest, I cannot believe Jessica Chastain who played Maya in this movie also played Celia Foote in The Help. Throughout the the movie I had this lingering thought or debate in my mind analyzing if this uptight, feisty and amazing CIA analysis was the crazy, quirky and cute Celia Foote. Turns out she was. Her range when it comes to acting surprised me.

Silence proves to be a very powerful storytelling device in this movie.

One really important thing to say is that the last 30 minutes were on of the most tense scenes in any movie. But the best thing about it is it was conserved and therefore honest. No jaw dropping effects, no amazing CG setpieces. Just purely intense build up until the very moment OBL dies.

The movie also ended on a very mature note. We do not see traditional celebration. We did not get upbeat rap music to end everything with. We end simply with a shot of Maya. She did not show any sign of happiness. It was a confusing mix of relief and sadness. A decade long hunt finally meets its end. But you can't help but inquire: was this more of a triumph for freedom or a loss for humanity? Have we really become an intelligent species that kills to attain peace? But then again maybe it is the only option and people like Maya just need to deal with it. And she did on that day, "zero dark thirty".

Monday, January 14, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook - Movie Review

In Silver Linings Playbook, Pat Solitano, after being released from a mental institution is faced with the responsibility of turning his life around despite his problems to revive a relationship with his former wife. However, along the way, he meets this girl with problems of her own and by helping her, he might finally find that silver lining.

The problem I find with romantic comedies and why I'm not so fond of them is that they're predictable, cliched, and sometimes forced. Silver Linings Playbook is not that kind of movie. It is a brilliant little comedy filled to the brim with content, laughs and drama and has a lot to say that almost everyone can relate to. You can't help but walk away from the movie with a smile on your face.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper's chemistry is off the charts.
First of all, the cast is brilliant. Bradley Cooper was sort of a drifter to me in the movie scene until this gem right here. He showed that he had the potential to star in plenty different roles and just nail it. He was really funny and the way he delivered his lines is spot on. Jennifer Lawrence is the prime breakthrough actress this year. Most will remember her for The Hunger Games but this is one of her best performances and I can only see her getting better. Robert De Niro is in it too and his veteran presence in the film is such a boost to the movie. Jacki Weaver handled her role great being the mother of a son with bipolar disorder. Chris Tucker was very conserved which really brought out his character. For a minor character, his presence on screen was very welcome.

"Why are you wearing a garbage bag?"

The biggest thing I have to commend about this film is the script, the dialogue and the directing. The script was phenomenal. The characters had a lot of things to say, things very important to the story and it was very well delivered by all the actors in the movie. You can feel that the relationships are real and tangible and not far off from reality. The cinematography was also good with very unconventional techniques. For example, in some points they used very wide angles (which is common for landscapes), expect this was used for dialogue scenes and that was very new to me. You also notice the rapid dollying in to characters which gives their personalities a whole new dynamic. The pacing was excellent which is why I assume there is a lot of content. Every scene was packed with dialogue and story pregression so there was never a dull moment.

It manages to balance out the drama and comedy really well. In fact in scenes where the atmosphere was heavy, David O. Russell injects just the right amount of comedy, not to dispell the drama but to enhance it and make it real. Without spoiling much, there was a scene near the end where everyone was on edge. This is the point where you expect things to go down but for some reason, the movie suddenly gives you something to at least smirk or laugh about. Because of this, the movie isn't overbearing on your emotions and does what it intends to do. This is where other comedies with drama fall short. They tend to forget that they are a comedy by, in hopes of having that human and grounded feeling, overdoing the drama. The recipe here in Silver Linigs Playbook was baked to perfection.

The supporting cast adds a whole new dynamic to the movie.

The movie tackles a relatively unique topic about how two people with mental problems, how unfortunate their case may seem, and how they can still come together and turn that negativity into a silver lining, I like how the "normal" people in this movie seem the most out of place and the moment you realize this you feel like the tables are turned and you're just gripped by that feeling all throughout. And it's a good feeling. It's the feeling of honesty. After the movie you just feel like being yourself no matter how crazy or unconventional you may be.

Silver Linings Playbook as you may know has been nominated in a lot of categories in various awards shows and I think it has a really great shot at becoming Best Picture and the actors getting their respective awards too. David O. Russel also did a great job at directing and he should be commended for this great piece of cinema.

If you're looking for that silver lining in your life, they you may want to watch Silver Linings Playbook. You'll have a great time, guaranteed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life of Pi - Movie Review

In Life of Pi, we are told the life of Piscine Molitor Patel, or Pi, who allegedly has a story that can make one believe in God. In the hands of an unknown writer, he gives a retelling of how he survived for 227 days at sea, a tale of adventure and discovery, after a horrific accident on a Japanese freighter all the while establisihing a strange relationship with a peculiarly named fearsome Bengal Tiger.

Life of Pi is without a doubt a visual spectacle. In fact, it was marketed as such profusely in various media. In most cases, movies that focus on being a spectacular visual feast usually lack in other aspects like acting and story. However, in Life of Pi, the plot and the acting are the real spectacles and it is amazing to see all these elements play out on the silver screen. Aside from a few quips here and there, Life of Pi is a very enjoyable and surprisingly intimate experience.

The uncanny relationship you can't help but love.

The plot is interesting because it tries to tackle the long running questions of theology and our humanity with some underlying tones of polytheism. But the film somehow stays aware of its role and doesn't bombard you with pretentious theological beliefs. In fact, by the end, the viewer is given complete control over his/her own reflection and not every movie can do that. Life of Pi does it beautifully, not just in its execution but in its spectacular visuals. The pacing of the film starts out a little slow. Nothing really happens in the first 15-30 minutes but things take a huge leap the moment Pi starts talking about his adventure with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. On paper, it may look absurd, but the relationship in the movie was believable. Unfortunately, though his adventure at sea may seem interesting, there are points where I felt the film had nothing to tell and plot progression came to a complete halt and to compensate for this, it stretched certain sequences and focused on visuals.

One major thing I liked about the story is how it went full circle by the end. Aside from the minor "twist" for lack of a better word, I thought the ending was perfect the way it is. It was wide open for interpretation and in a sense you kind of learn some things about yourself too. In the end you are indirectly posed a question. This question is something that I know, bothers some of us. But by the end of the movie, you'll somehow feel that you just made one tiny step closer to your answer. It was powerful, and it was meaningful. I just had some problems understanding the accent at the last scene when Pi was recounting his story to reporters. I think the effect of that scene was lost on me because I was concentrating on trying to understand the dialogue. Entirely my fault.

Truly breathtaking.

While I consider Life of Pi a graphical feat, it was for some parts very inconsistent. There are a lot of breathtaking moments with wide shots you've never seen before in cinema. The water reflecting the sky, the absolutely beautiful lighting, the lush and rich islands and the very well made animals. I swear at some points I didn't know if Richard Parker (the tiger) was real or not and I didn't have to know because it didn't matter. It all looked so great on screen.

It wasn't just beautiful but there were a lot of moments where I felt tense to the point that I almost wounded one of my fingers because of the pressure. I really do not know how Ang Lee and his crew managed to overcome all the technological hurdles in making those tense scenes and how the actors did such a great job at complementing them. However, I couldn't help but notice how the 3D effect of some scenes feel "cheap". Especially when the aspect ratios change drastically. There was one time the aspect ratio turned into something akin to 4:3 and it was very jarring and it took me out of the experience. It doesn't help that it lasted for around 10-20 seconds too.

I felt like that too.

For the most part, the acting was great. The dialogue was convincing enough and the interaction of Pi with what I assume is a CG tiger was not in the least bit awkward.

Overall, Life of Pi was a great movie. It had amazing graphics and visual flare. It had a decent and touching story. The acting was up to par with a lot of other movies released in 2012, maybe some of the best. In Life of Pi, you are given the opportunity to "Believe the Unbelievable"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild - Movie Review

In Beasts of the Southern Wild, you are presented the life of 6 year old Hushpuppy, her strange and dysfunctional but in some ways sweet relationship with her dad with what I presume is Sickle Cell Disease; and how the eyes of a child perceive the devastation wrought about by Hurricane Katrina in a distant and seemingly cut off and distant area called the Bathtub.

First of all, I would like to commend the movie on being highly original and unique. I cannot find any point of reference from which I can compare this movie to. Going in I didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that a lot of people had very good things to say about the film and I was not disappointed.

The focus of the movie is on Hushpuppy, played by new and rising child star Quvenzhane Wallis who gave a very convincing and heartfelt performance consistently allthroughout the movie. It blows my mind how a child acting her first movie can show so much maturity when it comes to playing out her sequences. I can confidently say that this movie features the best child actor in any movie ever. Hushpuppy's interaction with her father (played by Dwight Henry) was phenomenal. I wanted to believe they were actually father and child despite their very unconventional relationship.

But what's very striking in this movie is that we genuinely see the world through Hushpuppy's eyes. We see the world, as beautifully as it is, as she interprets it. Her father would share stories about her mother who swam away and how she didn't need to turn on the fire or boil water as they did just that merely in her presence. Hushpuppy would be believe it literally and we are treated with one of the most unique visual spectacles in a long time.

The whole movie actually is a spectacle. The visuals were astounding. You can feel the atmosphere of the almost dystopian natural paradise of The Bathtub filled to the brim with lush trees and grass against a clear sky backdrop. When the storm finally comes you can feel its dark and looming presence and how it affects the characters you see on screen. The sets were detailed and some of the most believable I've seen in cinema. As the storm passes, you are treated with the horrible effects of the flood. If I didn't know better, I would treat this movie as an allegory to the Great Flood. But to think that way doesn't do disservice to the movie either.

After a few events in the movie, we see a sudden change of character. With her father's progressively fading health, she decides to "swim" just as her mother did in hopes to find her. We see her meet a woman which could very well be her mother, except we never get to know. Which is one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie.

At the end she faces her own Beasts (in the form of the mythological Aurochs who feed on the weak hearts of men). As they bow down before her, we know Hushpuppy is a changed girl who can face anything going forward.

Despite the amazing aesthetics of the movie, the style used was a little shaky for my tastes. The shots also seemed a little tight for some reason up to the point that it feels a little claustrophobic but not to the point that it feels jarring. You just feel it, the proceed to enjoy the movie. The moment the camera goes wide is when you see the sheer beauty of this natural environment from which they shot in. The relationships, not only of Wallis and Henry were believable but also the relationships of their multi cultural cast. Acting was superb on all fronts by all characters.

Another thing to note is the sound design. Just hearing and experiencing the sound of the storm makes you feel like you are in the shabby house they live in. The sounds of the beasts are really well made and heavy and gives them the powerful kind of feel.

Overall, the story felt extremely well paced except for a few slowdowns here and there. It is not a movie primarily of survival after all. I think it is a movie about hope, courage and innocence and it portrays these themes remarkable well. The injection of fantasy in this film is also a great sight to see and is appropriate since we are viewing the world in the eyes of Wallis.

I recommend this movie to anyone who wants a unique, highly original and moving experience. And I am excited to see more of Wallis as she grows and matures into a better actor and is featured in more movies. This kid has a bright future ahead, and Beasts of the Southern Wild is just the start.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Movies to watch out for in 2013

These are my picks for the movies you must watch out for in 2013. This list is based solely on what I find interesting regardless whether they are good or not. I'll use a monthly format for better context. The picture indicates my most anticipated of the month.

NOTE: The list is subject to change as more news gets released.


Gangster Squad
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Zero Dark Thirty
John Dies at the End


Warm Bodies


Oz: The Great and Powerful
The Place Beyond the Pines


Upstream Color
The Evil Dead


Iron Man 3
Star Trek Into Darkness


After Earth
Man of Steel
This is the End
World War Z
Monsters University
Kick Ass 2
Much Ado about Nothing


Despicable Me 2
The Lone Ranger
Pacific Rim
The Conjuring


300: Rise of an Empire
Insidious Chapter 2


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2




Thor 2
The Hunger Games 2
Ender's Game


The Hobbit 2
Saving Mr. Banks

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Karlobster's Top 10 Movies of 2012

Welcome to my blog and welcome to my Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2012. These movies are those that were just a joy to watch and captivated me from the get go up to the end. They may not be considered by many as THE BEST movies of 2012, they have their flaws, they have their weaknesses, but depite that, I really enjoyed watching them. NOTE: I haven't watched ALL films of 2012. I didn't get a chance to watch every big release. Since I live in the Philippines I am severly limited with what gets released in the cinema as well as DVD. Movies like Les Miserables and Django Unchained haven't been released here yet, so movies of December 2012 are 2013 movies for me. ON TO THE LIST!

10. Wreck it Ralph

Of course, there always should be at least one animated movie on a top 10 list and this year it happens to be Wreck it Ralph. I am a huge gaming fanatic, and when the trailer came out and I found out it would use games as its setting, I was instantly sold. When I watched it, I didn't regret waiting for it at all. Sure I was expecting more video references, like homage to other well known classics like say Mario, Metroid, Crash Bandicoot. But I understand, they need rights, and those rights are expensive. But hey, it isn't about games anyway, its about Ralph who happens to be a character in a game. One thing's for sure, this movie changed the way I look at video games and glitches forever.

9. The Dark Knight Rises

When the movie first came out I was really expecting this one to make it to the number 1-2 spot, but as time passed by my rose tinted glasses came off and my Batman fanboyism died down. But I still think it is one of the best of 2012 and deserves its place as one of the best superhero movies of all time. It gave the trilogy good closure and I'd definitely by the Blu Ray set when it comes out.

8. Looper

This is one of the movies I regret not watching at the cinema. But damn, this movie was great. JGL of course gave an amazing performance and the kid's acting was stunning. I love the more mature take on time travel because I absolutely love time travel. The whole movie felt like an old gangster type film except with subtle sci fi and futuristic undertones. I also loved the idea of closing loops and it is a really unique way of using time travel in a story. The movie makes you think a little, and the reward for investing yourself into the universe and the characters pays off at the end. However, the movie came to a complete stop near the middle. This should have been higher in my list if not for the halt in plot progression for a good part of the movie.

7. The Hobbit

Being a Lord of the Rings fan, I was very excited for The Hobbit. They hype paid off. The Hobbit is one great piece of cinema I wouldn't mind to watch over and over again sporadically for the rest of my life. I thought it had better pacing than Fellowship of the Ring and the walking segments were less profound because of the great over the top action injected expertly into their journey. Also, the visuals were amazing. You won't get to watch another movie in 2012 that looks and sounds as great as Lord of the Rings. The 3D was a little lacking especially given the hype Peter Jackson likes to build when it comes to 3D. The monster and environment design was spot on and very innovative. You've never seen anything like it.

6. 21 Jump Street

This flick here was sort of a sleeper hit to me. I saw trailers and posters but didn't care for it. Mostly because Channing Tatum to me is just some actor who for lack of acting prowess just stars in pointless dancing movies which everyone seems to love. But I decided to give it a try and boy was I surprised at what I got. Tatum and Hill work perfectly together and I can't stress enough how their chemistry was off the roof in this one. The writing was amazing for a comedy flick. It had me laughing in the very first minutes and a lot of times through the course of the movie. It was witty and clever and you don't find that in a lot of comedy flicks. It was one hell of a good time, enough to propel it to the 6th spot in my list.

5. Indie Game: The Movie

To orient you, Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary about indie game developers and their struggles in developing and releasing a game they're working on and everything in between. It's a really captivating and heartfelt movie which shows the man behind the game. But instead of going deep into the technicalities of development, it gives a human twist on it all and delivers this emotional and uplifting experience which isn't done enough in documentaries. I am a huge gaming fan, and this movie just grasped my gamer heart and didn't let go up to the very last second. It had me in tears at one particular scene and it made me want to support developers like them and what they do to for the gaming industry. It also made shed a few tears at one particular scene.

4. Cabin in the Woods

Not your typical horror movie, Cabin the woods goes from dark and mysterious, to crazy scary to crazy funny. As a lot of people have said, it is the last horror movie ever and they should just stop making horror movies after this. Aside from its great acting and writing, the movie was very self aware which I appreciate in a horror movie. It also deconstructs horror movies really well and takes you on a ride you never expected going into the theater. I don't want to spoil anything but if you had one horror movie to watch from the year 2012, it should be Cabin in the Woods.

3. Safety not Guaranteed

This is a movie I just watched recently and I was blown away. I said earlier that I loved time travel movies right? Well, this is THE time travel movie and is coincidentally one of the best films of 2012. Of and it is also an indie movie. Wait, Time travel but indie? Do they have the budget for that? This movie proves you don't need a big budget to get yourself amazing effects work to make a great time travel movie. All you need is a great idea, a good director and good actors to play out that idea and transfer it to the big screen.

The performances in this movie are jaw dropping. Aubrey Plaza is possibly the best actor you've never heard, and Mark Duplass just delivers his character perfectly never skipping a beat. For a movie about time travel, the movie featured really little of it and was mostly just said in passing but because of this, it was all the more believable. There was this veil of doubt throughout the whole movie which is only satisfied at the very last 5 minutes of the movie. Incredible.

2. The Avengers

The Avengers is the product of years of preparation by Marvel. Numerous movies of a lot of characters, then joining to make one great movie that will blow your mind away. There really isn't much left say about this movie as everything I'm sure has been said numerous times over the internet, tv and radio. It had the potential to fail horribly but because it knows its goal and knows what kind of movie it is, it didn't and delivered more than one could possibly imagine from a superhero movie. Bravo Marvel.

1. Holy Motors

And last but not the least is Holy Motors.

Holy cow. Holy sh&t.

For a movie I didn't fully understand, which I don't think I will ever, I still loved this movie so much. It is this visual spectacle that you are just enraptured by. I have never seen any other film like this and the imagery it shows you is spectacular. I can't really say what this movie is about as I don't really understand it myself, but the beauty of the movie is that you think long and hard about what this movie means and as you think more about it you realize it gets better and better. How often does a movie stimulate deep thought hours upon hours after viewing it? Not very much and Holy Motors seemingly puts the responsibility of finding meaning to it in your hands. For a very barebones description of the movie, it is about movies, but not in the documentary like feel. It sort of pays homage to movies but still criticizes the state of film today in a rather uncanny and interesting way. It does this through actor Denis Lavant.

Denis Lavant probably propelled himself to the top with this movie and I can confidently say that he is one of the best actors of our generation. He plays 11 different roles, all very contrasting and unique. When he changes personas, you know that he's become a different character entirely and it is such a joy to watch unfold on the screen. I can't recommend it to everyone as it requires an open mind to watch. A mind that's willing to forget what Hollywoods thinks is good and would like to experience something of higher caliber. Holy Motors is everything I love about film and more.

Blogger news